Easy Passage across the Bay to Solomons – 4/30/16

First of All -

  • First smooth water passage experienced on Chesapeake Bay

Namely Speaking-

  • Bloodsworth Island
  • Hooper Island Light
  • Drum Point
  • Patuxent River
  • Solomons

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 37; Sail: Motor sailed 4 hours
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,448
  • Hours Underway: 5 1/2 hours
  • Fuel: 24
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.67
  • Wind Speed: 8; Wind Direction: ENE
  • Daily High Temperature: 60
  • Water Temperature: 59

DSCF2920We had a chance to visit with the owner of the marina last evening. Pauli is a remarkable lady, a highly accomplished artist whose work can be seen in the US Capitol Senate Chamber and in the Library of Congress, where she designed, painted and restored decorative panels. She subsequently moved here to Smith Island where she helps run the marina and produces works of art which help capture the fading traditional lifestyle of fishing and crabbing communities along the Eastern Shore. I leave cash in the little wooden box inside the marina office in exchange for a print of a watercolor she did of the local mailboat. It will be a happy reminder of this unique place where people speak in their own distinct dialect and drive around in cars without license plates.

We depart at dawn, and the breeze blowing into the harbor suggests another rough day out on the Bay. However, once we thread our wayDSCF2934 out onto the open Bay we’re happy to discover otherwise. The breeze is light and out of the east. I unfurl the genoa and we motor sail comfortably in waves of less than 1 foot. I set a series of waypoints out into the Bay, passing close to the Hooper Island lighthouse and detouring around a long fish trap. We’re able to cross directly over to Solomons, on the west side of the Bay, and we arrive shortly before noon. I stop at a convenient fuel dock on the way in and fill my gas tanks. We’ve averaged 6.5 miles per gallon over the past 150 miles, which isn’t too bad considering all the rough seas we’ve crossed through. We motor slowly past numerous marinas before turning in toward the Calvert Marine Museum on Back Bay. The mooring field out in front of the museum is deserted. Two sailboats are anchored along the edge of the mooring field, and after a bit of searching, I find a decent spot between the mooring field and shore. After we’re anchored I clamp the kicker motor onto the dinghy and we make the short run in to the museum’s dinghy dock. We’re disappointed to learn that the museum is closing at 3pm today, so they can host a wedding. We do our best with the 2 hours we have available. It’s just barely enough time to walk DSCF2935through the many fine exhibits in the museum building. After exiting we poke into the wooden boat building shop, and before leaving, we meet up with a museum volunteer who offers to give us a personalized tour through some of the historic boats the museum owns. We go on board an authentic wooden skipjack, which is a classic Chesapeake working boat design. Skipjacks are long, broad in the beam, flat bottomed, employing a centerboard for a keel, and carrying a remarkable amount of sail. They were designed to drag for oysters and, since Maryland has a law prohibiting motorized vessels from dragging for oysters, this boat originally had no motor. Instead, she carried a push boat, a kind of motorized dinghy which was carried out of the water on davits when the boat was dragging, but which could be lowered into the water to move her quickly back to port. The other boat we toured is a log canoe bugeye, built in the late 1800’s, and reportedly the second oldest Coast Guard certified wooden boat in the country. Bugeyes were working boats which predated the skipjacks, and their hulls were built from single logs, joined together. Following our museum and boat tour we dinghy back to the boat and fire up the barbque for a nice steak dinner.

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Rocking in the Rain – 5/1/16

First of All -

  • First day in May

Namely Speaking-

  • Cove Point
  • Taylors Island
  • Sharps Island
  • Tilghman Island
  • Knapps Narrows

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 32; Sail: Motor sailed 3 hours
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,480
  • Hours Underway: 5
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.53
  • Wind Speed: 10; Wind Direction: SE
  • Daily High Temperature: 58
  • Water Temperature: 56

DSCF2961Rain pelts us off and on for most of the night, and it’s raining when we get up, around 7am. We’re in no great hurry to get going, and so we take breakfast in the cabin before pulling up the anchor. This is in contrast with our practise of the previous 2 days, when I got up and going early, eating a breakfast of sweet rolls or granola bars while at the wheel. We time our departure with a fortunate pause in the rain showers, and pull out of Solomons shortly after 8am. It’s a little breezy, and once we get out onto the Bay we are rocking and rolling with a substantial side swell. I’m able to help things out a bit once we’re able to turn north, along the Calvert Cliffs, by letting out some jib and lowering the centerboard. We pass some large docking facilities, which appear to be for offloading petroleum or liquified natural gas products. We angle out across the Bay in 2 foot swells, motorsailing on a reach. For a good while we’re able to maintain over 7 mph. It’s very gloomy outside, withDSCF2963 frequent periods of heavy rain showers. From a distance we gaze at the mid-Bay lighthouse, which has been tipped at a serious angle by the pressure of ice. Shortly after noon we draw near to Knapps Narrows. The rain pours down, and I get the foul weather gear out, anticipating having to tie up in heavy rain. Thankfully, the rain quits just before we reach the entry channel. As we draw near, I call the marina. The dockmaster says they have plenty of room, and he’ll meet us on the dock. Next I call the bridge tender, requesting a bridge opening. I’m thankful for his prompt opening, since there’s a noticeable current pushing is down the channel, and I don’t want to have to try turning around in the narrow channel. Once we’re clear of the bridge we approach the marina, which is just to the west of the bridge. We’re placed on a nice floating face dock.

After checking in we grab 3 bicycles and go for a ride over the draw bridge and onto Tilghman Island. We’re heading for the old fashioned country store, but before getting there we see a small museum, the Tilghman Waterman’s Museum, and it’s open for the next 30 minutes. We go inside, and enjoy a delightful visit. The museum has several exhibit galleries, DSCF2964and is very nicely arranged, with a nice mix of photos, informational panels, videos and artifacts. A local self taught artist is featured in one of the galleries, and his work is remarkable. Beautifully detailed models of classic Chesapeake Bay working boats and exquisitely carved name boards from skipjacks and bugeyes now long gone are on display. After leaving the museum we pedal over to the country store. It’s well stocked with the basics, and has a nice meat counter as well as some interesting local foods. I stock up on some tasty looking canned crab soup, and we also decide to pick up a tub of their freshly made chilli. As cold and wet as it’s been lately, the soup and chilli should both warm and fill us up at meals to come. Our final stop is at a local woodworkers shop. The owner proudly shows usDSCF2965 the boxes and framed ship half molds which he makes there. He also tells us a bit about Tilghman Island, mentioning the significant number of notable people who live there, at least part of the time. He lists people like Donald Rumsfeld, Willard Scott, a member of the Kennedy family, and a prominent space scientist among the folks who are drawn to the peace and beauty of this corner of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

We return to the boat and stow our groceries. Afterward, we go for a walk to rouse up appetites. The big debate is whether to draw from our ample larder for a meal on board, or go out for dinner at the nearby waterfront restaurant. Going out is the winner, and we’re not disappointed. The special of the day includes a special preparation of scallops, and both Peter and I order them. They’re excellent. After dinner we order slices of Smith Island cake for dessert. We missed trying it when we were at Smith Island, and we must sample it here. It’s an amazing 11 layer cake, with a pistachio flavored frosting, and we love it.

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What the Hail! – 5/2/16

First of All -

  • First time at a marina that provides complimentary continental breakfast
  • First time seeing the sun in 5 days
  • First hail experienced on the boat, ever
  • First time rain has filled the dinghy above the level of the inflated floor

Namely Speaking-

  • Poplar Island
  • Bloody Point
  • Wye River
  • St. Michaels

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 20; Sail: Motor sailed with main and jib 1 hour
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,500
  • Hours Underway: 3 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 8; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 80
  • Water Temperature: 58

DSCF2972A light fog lays over the Narrows and surrounding waters this morning. We’re not going far today, so we take the time to walk up to the marina lounge and enjoy their complimentary continental breakfast. Dock lines are uncleated by 9am. I have navigation lights on, since fog still limits good visibility to less than a mile. The seas are calm, with just the slightest breeze out of the east. The only boats we see out there are a few working boats. They’re working the bottom for clams, using a siphon tube and a long, angled conveyor belt. I raise the main and unfurl the genoa, and we briefly sail with the engine off, but when our speed drops below 4 mph we add engine power, trying to keep above 5mph. With the help from the sails, the engine only needs to turn at 2000 rpm, and with things so quiet, I’m able to play some CD’s on the stereo. It’s a most pleasant and relaxing way to cruise.

As we enter Miles River and near Tilghman Point the fog begins to lift and our visibility improves. However, the wind completely fails, so the sails come down andDSCF2975 we motor around the corner, toward St. Michaels. The sky continues to brighten as we tie up at St. Michaels Marina. We’re practically the only boat there. We heat up a tasty beef fajita lunch, using leftovers from a recent dinner. Following lunch we head up into town for an afternoon walk, under bright blue skies and cheerful, warm sunshine. This is the first time we’ve even seen the sun since leaving Yorktown. St. Michaels has a rich history, and the residential streets are lined with lovely homes, many of which are from the mid to late DSCF29801800’s. A few go back to the late 1700’s. During the War of 1812, boatyards at St. Michaels actively engaged in the construction of privateers which caused the British, who were based at nearby Tilghman Island, no end of trouble. Admiral Cochrane finally decided to do something about it, and sent a fleet over to destroy the place with a night naval bombardment. The townspeople were ready, however. They doused all lights in the houses, and then hung lit lanterns high up in some nearby trees. The British shot high and did virtually no damage. Ever since, St. Michaels has prided itself as the town that fooled the British. We enjoy strolling past the many quaint downtown shops, and then walk along a residential street toward a trailhead. The walking path is on a former rail line, and it passes through a pleasant mix of woodland and meadow, and it eventually leads us to a salt grass marsh and a small arm of salt water. This is the head of San Domingo Creek, a navigable branch of the Choptank River, and it’s used as a back door access to St. Michaels. We then walk back toward Talbot Street, which is the main street in town. We stop in at the St. Michaels Winery for a bit of wine tasting. Peter selects a bottle of wine he particularly likes. We also visit the brewery next door and sample a flight of their beers. On the way back to the boat we walk through historic St. Marys Square, where DSCF2987some of the oldest homes in St. Michaels are located. The little park features a small museum which is unfortunately only open on weekends. Cannons from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 are mounted on concrete stands in the park. Back at the boat Peter and Mary Ann pull the laundry together while I tend to boat chores. I fill the water tank, empty rainwater out of the dinghy, and lay sleeping bag, memory foam mattress topper and foam pad out onto the dock. My efforts to seal the port side foredeck leak have proven less than successful, and we’re still getting water into the boat when we pound heavy seas like we did a few days ago. It’s not too bad, and the late afternoon sun is sufficient to dry things out. Once chores are done we’re free to head for dinner. I’ve noticed that clouds are moving in, and the forecast calls for thunderstorms, so before walking over to the Town Dock Restaurant I set up the cockpit surround. About halfway through dinner we notice raindrops on the windows, and a little later, lightning begins to flash in the darkening sky. We hear thunder boom from inside the restaurant. We hurry back to the boat during a lull in the rain and climb aboard. We’re none too soon,DSCF2986 because the thunder and lightning are soon very close, and the rain is pounding down. We then hear sounds lik gravel being thrown against the cabin roof. Hail! The clatter increases in intensity. I decide to stick my hat outside the cockpit surround and try to catch some, to see how large it is. I climb into the cockpit, and the hail striking the bimini creates a noise so loud its like I’m inside a popcorn pan during the maximum rate of popping. I hold the hat outside for a minute or so, and then beat a hasty retreat to the shelter of the cabin. I’m amazed at the size of the hail stones I’ve caught. The largest ones are about 3/4″ in diameter. After the hail lets up, the wind hits us. We get roughly jerked around at our fixed dock, and it feels like we inside a washing machine during the agitation cycle. As all this is going on, a loud siren goes off, probably at the nearby fire station. This is likely a tornado alert, however, we’re not going anywhere. The storm lasts for another hour or so, before things ease down to a steady rain. Fog, overcast, blue skies and sunshine, thunder, lightning, rain and hail. Today we’ve had it all.

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Taking in Maritime History at St. Michaels – 5/3/16

First of All -

  • First occupied purple martin house seen
  • First time having to wade through 3 inches of water to access the restroom

Namely Speaking-

  • bugeye
  • log canoe
  • skipjack

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,500
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.75
  • Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: NE
  • Daily High Temperature: 68
  • Water Temperature: 58

DSCF3002The storm is spent by morning. Sky is gray, but no rain is falling. Evidence of the strength of last night’s storm is everywhere. Shredded leaves blanket the ground and clog up drainage grates. The entryway to the restrooms is flooded, and I have to wade through 3 inches of water to reach the door. After breakfast we walk over to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, which is arguably the most outstanding museum of its type on Chesapeake Bay. It would be a big mistake to try and visit this place in less than several hours. We spend most of the day wandering through the many exhibit buildings and viewing the historic wooden boats on display here. The screwDSCF3003 pile lighthouse displays the life of a lighthouse keeper. The evolution of wooden crabbing and oystering boats is told through outstanding examples of Chesapeake Bay’s distinctive types. One building is devoted to the recreational use of the bay, while others depict crabbing and oystering on the Bay. Another tells about waterfowling, with dozens of working decoys and decorative carved decoys on display. Enormous punt guns, as large as 2 guage, which could kill 30 or more ducks in a single shot, give a sense of what market hunting was like in the early 1900’s. This museum does a wonderful job of depicting the life and culture of Chesapeake Bay, and a visit to this region would be incomplete without spending at least half a day here.

In the late afternoon I return to the boat while Peter and Mary Ann walk over to the local grocery to pick up some crackers, bread and cheese. While in the store they meet up with Roger and Chris, who are cruising the Loop on board Miss Utah. They stop by our boat later on, and we enjoy good wine and great conversation in the cockpit. I expect I’ll see them again along the way.

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Across the Bay to Annapolis – 5/4/16

First of All -

  • First time cruising to a state capitol
  • First time backing into a slip
  • Chomping into the first softshell blue crab on the trip

Namely Speaking-

  • Crab Alloy Bay
  • Kent Narrows Bridge
  • Love Point
  • Severn River
  • Annapolis

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 33; Sail: Motor sailed 1 hour
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,533
  • Hours Underway: 5 1/4
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.55
  • Wind Speed: 8; Wind Direction: NE
  • Daily High Temperature: 58
  • Water Temperature: 58

DSCF3063Today we depart the Eastern Shore, under gray skies and a moderate breeze, which helps us off the dock. We opt to take the long way, through Kent Narrows, since it looks to be the more interesting route. We adjust speed so that we’ll make the 9am bridge opening. Things work out perfectly, and we proceed through the narrow bascule bridge opening with just a slight lowering of speed. The route then takes us around the north end of Kent Island at Love Point, where we turn south toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a high span which is the only bridge which crosses the Bay between here and the Bay’s mouth. Once under the bridge, we set a waypoint for Annapolis, which weDSCF3068 reach by noon. I phone the Annapolis City Marina for instructions on entry. When we visited Annapolis by boat in September, 2009 the entire marina was full, and only 3 mooring balls above the bascule bridge remained. Today the City slips in the inner basin are completely vacant, except for the water taxi boat. The harbormaster and his assistant are at the dock to help us in, and they seem really glad to see us. I end up backing into the slip, since the finger dock is quite short and backing in will make it easier for us to step on and off the boat.

After securing the boat and getting signed in we set out on a walk into the historic core of Annapolis. We head for a local tavern where we order lunch. Soft shell crab from North Carolina is on the menu (today is the first day it’s being offered), so I order a soft shell crab sandwich. It’s good, but still pretty strange, chomping into a batter fried crab, soft shell and all. After lunch we walk up town, through some lovely Colonial era streets. We turn toward the Maryland State House, which claims a number of distinctions. It is the oldest state house in the nation, the largest wooden domed structure in the country, the site of the nation’s capitol for 9 months, and the location where General Washington resigned his Continental Army commission at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. On top of all that, it is a truly lovely structure, sited on top of the highest hill in Annapolis. We walk the streets, eventually arriving at the visitor center, where we arrange to take a guided walking tour of the city tomorrow. We are pointed toward visiting the William Paca house and garden, which turns out to be an excellent suggestion. Mr. Paca built and lived in this home for around 12 years, following its construction in 1765. Paca was one of 4 Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence, and his home has survived to this day, now restored to how it must have appeared in his day. A lovely recreated 18th century garden lies behind the home. We look forward to seeing more of the historic sites of this city on tomorrow’s walk.

On the way back to the boat we walk over to the waterfront, where the replica Baltimore Clipper schooner Lynx is tied up. The original clipper fought in the War of 1812 and was captured by the British. I learn that this vessel spends her winters at Fort Myers Beach, and I recall that we saw here when we visited there back in early December. She will soon be departing for Nantucket where she’ll spend much of the summer taking young people out on cruises.

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Walking Tour of Annapolis – 5/5/16

First of All -

  • First military academy toured while on the cruise
  • First tidal flooding encountered on the cruise

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,533
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.55
  • Wind Speed: light; Wind Direction:
  • Daily High Temperature: 56
  • Water Temperature: 56

DSCF3089Today we’re heading out on a guided walking tour of Annapolis. We gather with 4 other people at the visitor center and meet our guide, Squire Don. He’s appropriately dressed in Colonial Era garb, and he proves to be an excellent interpreter of the history of Annapolis. He’s a retired attorney and has been leading groups on tours for the past 18 years. He gives us a brief but informative history of settlement in Annapolis, with an emphasis on the role which religion and politics played in the early history here. We walk over to the State House, and are shown the inside of this remarkable structure. In the main lobby, directly beneath the dome, a glass case holds a remarkable document. It’s George Washington’s handwritten speech with which he resigned his commission following the end of the Revolution. It’sDSCF3101 written in his own hand, an incredibly significant artifact. The old House of Delegates chamber has been restored to it’s appearance in the late 1800’s, while the old Senate chamber has recently been restored to its appearance when Washington appeared there to resign his commission. The State of Maryland went to great lengths to achieve the highest degree of accuracy in this restoration. $300,000 was spent on the floor alone, using timbers from 18th Century lumber and employing only tools and techniques from that period. A life sized statue of Washington has been placed in the chamber, at the presumed location where he delivered this address. The walls are decorated with portraits of many people who were present to hear him speak. Up in the gallery balcony a statue of a woman has been placed. Women in Washington’s day weren’t permitted to be on the Senate floor, and were required to watch from the balcony. Molly Ridout was there that day, and wrote down a detailed description of the occasion in a letter to her mother. This letter is our only first hand account of this historic event.

After leaving the State House we follow Squire Don eastward, listening to stories about some of the more significant 18th Century houses which are so heavily concentrated in this part of town. We end up at the entry gate to the U.S. Naval Academy. Photo ID is required at the gate, and it turns out that Washington State is one of only 5 states where drivers licenses are not acceptable as photo ID. Fortunately, we all have our passports on hand, and so are able to gain admittance to the grounds of the Naval Academy. The Academy was founded in 1845, and it’s a beautiful campus, steeped in history and tradition. We visit the Chapel, actually a very large house DSCF3109of worship, topped by a great copper dome which can be seen from well out on the Bay. The main sanctuary is illuminated with beautiful stained glass windows, each based on a biblical text relating to the sea. Four of the windows were done by the famed Tiffany Company. We are led down to the basement, where the body of John Paul Jones, father of the American Navy, lies within a highly ornate crypt. On our way to the great dormatory, Bancroft Hall, which houses all 4,500 plebes and midshipmen. Our final stop is at Memorial Hall, dedicated to all Academy graduates who have given their lives in service to their country.

By time our tour ends our feet are sore and our stomachs are empty. We walk over to the Rams Head Tavern for lunch. Afterward, we go our separate ways. I head for the barbershop, where I get a much needed haircut. Peter and Mary Ann go on a tour of the Hammond-Harwood House. After my haircut I walk down Maryland Street to meet up with them and while waiting for them, I strike up conversation with a lady from the Chase-Lloyd House. She invites me in for a free tour. This 18th century house has been used as a residence throughout its history, and it continues in that role to this day, providing housing for 8 elderly ladies who have suffered misfortune of some sort in their lives. This mission was provided for in the will of a former owner.

After all this touring, we’ve all reached the saturation point for historical buildings, so we head for a nearby tavern (dating to 1750) where we relax over a couple of beers and a tub full of steamed mussels. We return to the boat, and find the water level in the marina at an extremely high level. It’s actually flooding into a nearby parking lot. This condition is caused by unusually high tides, compounded by prevailing winds which are piling up the water in this part of the Bay. No worries for us. Hey, we’re on a boat.

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Rainy Run to Baltimore – 5/6/17

First of All -

  • First time docking during a downpour (and no help from dock hands)
  • First bird – yellow warbler

Namely Speaking-

  • Bodkin Creek
  • Patapsco River
  • Baltimore

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 32; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,565
  • Hours Underway: 5 3/4
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: NE
  • Daily High Temperature: 56
  • Water Temperature: 57

DSCF3131Today is another in this extended series of cold, wet, gray days. Only, today is even more so. The rain begins as I prepare to untie the boat. This operation is complicated by the fact that it’s high tide and the tide is 1 1/2 feet higher than normal high tide. The nearby parking lot is fully flooded, and our boat’s waterline is nearly even with the finger pier deck. This makes for an extremely tall step on and off the boat. Fortunately, it’s not windy and I have ample time to untie all lines and climb back aboard. It’s breezy once we get out onto the Severn River, and it’s downright windy on the main Chesapeake, as we cross under the Bay Bridge. This makes for extremely rough seas. Several times we virtually bury the bow in the shortly spaced waves. Four to five footers for sure. Thankfully, the rough stuff doesn’t last long, and we eventually gain the protection of the Patapsco River. We pass beneath the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which has been constructed at the approximate location where he stood on deck in the early morning hours and saw our flag still waving. Fort McHenry isDSCF3134 on our port side as we make the turn which the British were prevented from doing, and we enter Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The waters are calm, although it’s pouring down rain. I radio Baltimore City Dock for a slip assignment. That’s easy, since there are absolutely no boats at their docks. “Take your pick, just don’t grab a spot in the middle”, we’re told. I ask for assistance in docking, and am told that they can’t go out until the rain quits. Well, it’s been raining steadily for the past 4 hours. We have no choice but to handle docking on our own. Before going over to the office, which is more than 1/4 mile away, we take time to heat up some soup for lunch. When I check in, I ask if they have WIFI. They say they did, but not long ago they were visited by the Mexican Navy. This boat, while departing, managed to collide with their WIFI antenna and knock it down. They weren’t sure if it had been repaired yet. Sounds like an act of revenge on the part of Mexico for us stealing Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah from them back in 1848, if you ask me.

After checking in, we grab umbrellas and head over to the National Aquarium, which is just a short distance away. This aquarium is housed in a 5 story structure, and it’s one of the finest I’ve ever visited. The exhibits are beautifully presented, and in addition to fish from the world over, they also have birds, reptiles and many other creatures. Volunteer docents, in distinctive blue shirts, are wandering around throughout the place, ready and eager to provide interesting information about the creatures displayed. At one habitat a docent placed beetles on the end of a stick and held them out over the water, above a school of archer fish. It was amazing to watch those fish accurately launch sprays of water at the stick, knocking their lunch into the water. We finished our aquarium tour off by watching their 4D film about prehistoric swimming reptiles. It’s a great movie, and special effects inside the theater make for a truly startling experience. For dinner we stroll uptown, into the district known as Little Italy, where we enjoy a delightful dinner at a great Italian restaurant.

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O’er the Land of the Free and Take Me Out to the Ballgame – 5/7/16

First of All -

  • First litter clean up boat seen
  • First baseball game attended

Namely Speaking-

  • Ft. McHenry
  • Camden Yard

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,565
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 13.4 (plugged in)
  • Wind Speed: 10 Wind Direction: N
  • Daily High Temperature: 70
  • Water Temperature: 57

DSCF3165Patches of blue sky greet us this morning when we emerge from the cabin. To say this is a welcome change from yesterday’s rain would be an extreme understatement. We pack a lunch and head over to the nearest water taxi landing, where we step on board for the run out to Ft. McHenry. The taxi takes us over to Fells Point where we change boats and cross the harbor to Ft. McHenry. The fort is strategicly situated on a penninsula which commands the entrance to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In 1814 the British needed to subdue the fort before entering the Inner Harbor. This action was critical to their plans for destroying Baltimore. Despite the fact that only 4 Americans diedDSCF3146 during the famous battle, the British very nearly succeeded in their aim. One of their “bombs”, actually 180 lb mortar shells which could be fired a mile high and 2 miles in distance, made a direct hit on the fort’s powder magazine, where 30,000 pounds of black powder was stored. If the mortar had detonated the magazine would have blown up and the fort would have been obliterated. Fortunately for the Americans, this bomb was a dud and merely fractured some timbers in the roof. History might read much differently if it had exploded. We learn amazing stories like this at Ft. McHenry. Much of the presentations there focus on Francis Scott Key and how he came to witness the battle from the deck of a British ship, and how he was so moved to write his memorable verse which became our national anthem. In one of the fort’s buildings we view the actual wooden timbers which formed the foundation for the flagpole from which the star spangled banner flew on that fateful morning. The flagpole at the fort now stands on the very spot where the original pole once stood. Following our walk through history we step outside and picnic at a bench, looking out over the waters where the British fleet was anchored. Fort McHenry is another of those special places which all Americans should visit.

DSCF3150We reboard the water taxi and cross back to Fells Point, which is one of the older districts in Baltimore. We walk along the main street, which is paved with cobble stones from ship ballast, and step across a set of old railroad tracks. These are the very same tracks which Abraham Lincoln rode upon when he traveled to Washington to assume the office of President, just prior to the onset of the Civil War. We catch another water taxi which takes us back to the Inner Harbor and we walk around town, visiting the house where the Star Spangled Banner flag was sewn. We also walk out to the shot tower, an enormous brick tower built around 1820, where lead shot was made byDSCF3156 passing molten lead through a sieve and allowing the lead droplets to fall more than 200 feet, into a water tank inside the base. The sun shines brightly as we make our way back to the boat, where we rest and relax over drinks and chips. We eat a quick dinner of crab soup before heading over to Camden Yard, where the Baltimore Orioles are playing the Oakland Athletics. I’m a huge baseball fan, and I’ve been hoping to catch a game here in Baltimore for quite a while. Peter and Mary Ann aren’t baseball fans but they are good sports, and they come along. We have a fun time, with good seats. The game is entertaining, and I’m particularly intrigued when I see a sign for Dempsey’s Brew Pub and Restaurant, mounted on the side of the stadium. You see, Rick Dempsey played catcher for the Orioles back in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, and was a World Series hero when the O’s won the Series in 1983. I went to high school with Rick (he was 2 years behind me), so I always followed his baseball career with great interest and pride. I learned that Rick is a radio announcer for the Orioles, and is actually at the game tonight. I try to get in touch by handing a boat card with a phone number on it to the Fan Support office people. Not surprisingly, I don’t get a call back, but I do see him up in the announcer’s booth, and I snap his picture with the telephoto lens. We join the throngs of fans who stream out of the stadium following the last out (the O’s won, 5-2) in a light sprinkle of rain. It’s great to have the ballpark located here, right in the middle of the city.

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Boat Chores – 5/8/16

First of All – Some of Baltimore’s firsts -

  • First railroad in the nation (the B & O)
  • First artificial lighting system
  • First umbrella factory

Namely Speaking-

  • Rusty Scupper

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,565
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.75
  • Wind Speed: 18; Wind Direction: N
  • Daily High Temperature: 70
  • Water Temperature: 57

This is Mothers Day, so the three of us head over to the Rusty Scupper, a nice nearby bar and restaurant which features a great Sunday Brunch. We arrive at 10 am, a half hour before the advertised start time, and we find the place already in full gear and very busy. Despite not having a reservation we’re seated without delay. A lady at a nearby table tells us that people reserve for the Mothers Day brunch up to 4 months in advance. We feel fortunate to be worked in so easily. The food is great, and the setting lovely, with sweeping views out over the entire Inner Harbor. Before going into the restaurant we tossed our laundry into a washing machine in the marina laundry room, which is conveniently located just downstairs from the restaurant. By the time we’re done eating the wash is ready for the drier. We return to the boat and I start tackling boat chores. I haul the sleeping bag, mattress and topper out onto the dock, since they’ve gotten slightly wet. We pounded some heavy seas on the run up from Annapolis, and probably got some water in then. The forward part of the Vee berth is moist, so some of the water may be due to condensation. In any case, it’s sunny and windy, perfect conditions for drying things out. I also haul out the carpets so they can dry (been getting damp from us coming and going in all the wet weather). I also shake and DSCF3182brush as much debris out of them as possible. Next, I wipe down interior fiberglass surfaces, including the head, using some spray cleaner. Lastly, I inventory our provisions and put together a grocery list. After Peter returns with the dried and folded laundry we go for a walk, over to Federal Hill, which is the highest point near the Inner Harbor, and probably the highest point in Baltimore. We enjoy a panoramic view from atop the hill. It was a natural hill, made higher when it was fortified back in Revolutionary War times. During the Civil War Union forces occuppied the place, and trained cannon on the City of Baltimore, since this city held strong Southern sympathies. It has been said that if Baltimore had been taken by the Confederates Maryland would have gone with the South. This would have likely resulted in the capture of Washington DC by the South, and could possibly have been key to a Confederate victory. It was actually closer to happening than most people today realize. The first casualties of the War occurred right here, when crowds rioted and attacked a column of Massachusetts troops who were marching through the City to help garrison the Nation’s capitol.

We scramble down the hill and just keep walking, back around the Inner Harbor and over to the Whole Foods grocery store, which isDSCF3187 located amidst a cluster of condominium and apartment towers on the east side of the Inner Harbor. I’m able to find most items on my list, but they don’t carry Tang and, of all things, powdered coffee creamer. This store is distinctly up scale in what they carry and what they charge. I conclude that Chinook is more of a Walmart grocery type of boat versus a Whole Foods boat. We tote the provisions back to the boat where I manage to stow them in our tubs and hanging nets. By dinner time we’re only marginally hungry following this morning’s brunch, but we do manage one last meal out at a nearby Irish Pub. We sit outside on the upper deck, gazing out at the throngs of people strolling by on the broad Inner Harbor walkway.

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Crew Change – 5/9/16

First of All -

  • First time riding on light rail

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 4,565
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.7
  • Wind Speed: 10; Wind Direction: N
  • Daily High Temperature: 67
  • Water Temperature: 57

The boat is astir by 4am. Peter and Mary Ann have an airport shuttle to catch at 5. I walk with them across the deserted boulevard, and their driver shows up right on time. We say our goodbyes and they drive down the road, headed for BWI airport. I walk back to the boat and crawl back into the sack. It feels great to get back into the Vee berth (while Peter and Mary Ann have been aboard I’ve been worming my way into a very tight space in the aft king berth area, between folding bicycles and tubs of gear). I sleep until 8am, and then get busy. I reorganize the king berth, fill the water tank, make one more trip over to Whole Foods for some more sweet rolls, pick up a bag of ice, and do a general straightening of the boat. Once all is ready, I fix some lunch and then walk 3 blocks north, toward the light rail station right in front of Camden Yards baseball stadium.

DSCF3189It’s a tough call on what mode of transportation to take to the airport. Option A is to rent a car, probably for 2 days at around $45 per day. I would then need to pay for 2 days of parking garage space, probably another $40. I’d need to pay for parking at the airport, at least $15 more. The drive to the airport would take close to an hour. In addition, I’d spend an hour or two picking up and dropping off the car. Option B is to pay around $100 for shuttle rides to and from the airport. Option C is to walk 3 blocks to the light rail station, pay my round trip fare of $1.40, and wait 20 minutes for the next train to the airport. Sandy’s one way fare is an additional $.70. Oh yes, the light rail gets me to the airport in just 30 minutes. Talk about economy, convenience and efficiency. The train takes me right to the terminal, and it’s just a short walk to the area where Sandy’s flight will arrive. The plane gets in 20 minutes early, and it’s great to see her walking down the corridor. We retrieve her checked luggage and walk back to the train platform. Five minutes later we’re rolling down the tracks, and 30 minutes after that we’re walking along the streets of Baltimore to the Inner Harbor. Too bad for Peter and Mary Ann that the light rail doesn’t run between midnight and 6am.

Sandy is starving, so we toss her luggage into the boat and walk over to the Rusty Scupper for a quick dinner. We have just enough time to catch the water taxi over to Harbor East. On one of my earlier treks over there I had spotted a movie theater which is showing the new Jungle Book film. We get there just in time, and have a fun time at the show. It’s been more than a full day for us both, and we have a lot to talk about on our way back to the boat.