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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