Monday, July 28, 2008

July 27, 2008.

We’ve been here in Baltimore for the better part of a week now. The city has really gained a couple of new fans in us. The waterfront promenade makes getting around very easy. On sections of the walkway where there’s too much foot traffic, bicycles are banned, but a 10 foot wide bike lane is provided nearby.

The downtown area of Baltimore was at one time a major seaport. There were rows of huge wharfs jutting out into the harbor. Most of these piers have been rehabilitated and add a great dimension to the harbor front. Some of the piers are completely covered with condo units while others are home for water front attractions.

We went and checked out the Baltimore Science Center. The big draw for us was the Body World traveling exhibit which happened to be in town. The Body World exhibit is in one word, bizarre. The exhibit is comprised of dead bodies and body parts that have been through a plasticizing process. The display bodies are stripped of skin but because the body’s fluids have been replaced by some type of plastic the bodies are rigid and can be posed.

The specimens are posed in various stances. For example there’s a baseball player caught in his batting follow through. The muscles on one side of his torso are frozen in their maximum contraction while the muscles on the other side are at full stretch. It was a pretty big shock to see just how thin and fragile human muscles look.

Since there’s no skin or hairstyles to give you a clue, the easiest way to tell male from female was by genitalia. This brought about a pretty funny exchange between a dad and his young son. The kid said “That ones a boy”. The people around lightly snicker. Dad asked “how can you tell?” The kid replied “he’s got a big thingy”. The people close by bust out laughing and dad said to the kid “we’ll talk later”.

The displays also included diseased and healthy internal organs. There were exposed veins and arteries and even the central nervous system. The best part is because its all 3D you can walk around the displays and see the body from every angle. Some have different layers peeled back as if they were a blooming flower. There was one body that they call the Exploded Man. Every muscle group and internal organ hung from strings from a large grid in the ceiling. The thing looked like a giant wind chime. The exhibit is laid out in such a way that you can’t help but come out having a much more realistic view of what’s going on inside you. Touring this exhibit should be required for anyone taking any type of anatomy courses. When we got done it was time for lunch………

There’s an area called Fells Point that is really a good place to hang out, eat and drink. There’s a central brick paved square bordered
by dozens of small shops and pubs. There’s something for every appetite from ice cream to Indian food, we haven’t encountered any place like this area in our travels up until now.

Another venue on our “must see” list was the Baltimore Aquarium. The building is beautiful, with you entering at the bottom of a 5 story cascading rain forest waterfall.

In the aquarium there are a couple of special things not to be missed. The first was a twenty minute film about the earth and seas. The film was okay but the theater itself was outstanding. They call it a 4D experience. The seats are all wired for special effects. When a fish would splash there would be a spritz of water right in your face. As the film wound through the artic the room was filled with snowflakes and you don’t want to know what happened when a cave full of sleeping bats was roused. The theater made the movie.

After that there was a dolphin show in the large performance tank. Most of the performers were born and raised right here in the facility. It was a good show and the dolphins really did look eager to show off their skills. One of my favorite parts was when one of the dolphins swam along the edge of the tank splashing the audience.

As everyone here on earth knows, the first 4 rows are ALWAYS the splash zone. It’s the same at every dolphin show, it’s not a surprise and as usual they announced that fact a few times as the audience filed in. “If you don’t want to get wet, maybe even drenched, don’t sit in the first 4 rows”. The obvious clue would be the standing puddles of water from the previous show and the signs. So Flipper came along and absolutely drenched these 3 women in the front row and they were outraged. They jumped up, tried to run, but it was too late. They looked like they fell off a boat. They were pissed, it was great, just another reason to enjoy Baltimore.

The displays were the same as found in most major aquariums but held some really nice specimens. While touring the “Atlantic Reef” section we encountered several of the fish we had as part of our diet while in the Bahamas.
Once again we left an exhibit hungry……..

On Pier 6 there’s a shaded amphitheater for concerts. Last night the show was a reggae review including Ziggy Marley. Tickets were $30 to $50 a piece so we figured we could take the dinghy right down between the piers and see the show for free.

So, accompanied by the Makeitsos, we took our dinghies for the 10 minute ride to the downtown waterfront. We scooted right up the fairway between the piers and tied off to a piling in the center of the waterway right up next to the stage. We brought cocktails and reclining seating and laid back in the dinks to enjoy the show. The waterfront behind us was shoulder to shoulder with people watching the show across the fairway. They were doing the same thing we were, we just had better seats. After Ziggy Marley did his first set the flaw in our plan became obvious, no bathrooms, nada, crap, no not actually. So in a break between sets we dropped our mooring and zipped home.

It was a really good way to see the show. There’s a fairly busy schedule of concerts there so if you’re in town I highly recommend it. In a couple of days there’s some big fancy orchestra performing Led Zeppelin hits. I’d like to see it but weather permitting we should be gone south by then.

Speaking of weather. This afternoon we were watching threatening thunderheads come through when we were hit by a fairly vicious micro burst.

The breeze went from 10 knots to over 35 in a heartbeat. The wind was accompanied by a torrential downpour. Visibility was literally zero. Both of us were craning to see Dragging Guy from the other night. Before the storm hit he was 300 feet ahead of us and we were expecting him to be here any second. Mercifully, the ferocious winds only lasted for a minute or two and dropped to a more manageable 15 to 20 knots. Visibility also returned to reveal that the dragger had a repeat performance and was now in the process of slowly dragging past us. He must be using a bent paperclip for an anchor.

The same as the other night, he was totally unaware. I tried the VHF radio and Christy got out the air horn, again. Hooooonnnkk, oh look, he decided to come topsides. By then the wind had died back to 10 knots and he’d stopped moving. So after a quick look around he went back below deck. I almost shit myself.

Then we happened to look behind us and the small sailboat that had come in today and anchored behind us was up against the dock. The 2 guys onboard were trying to get themselves back off the wall to reanchor. It really was a vicious little storm.

We were surrounded by thunderheads, but in a lull. Dragging Guys anchor was just sitting on the bottom, when the wind starts to blow again he’s going to be on the move again. It was the perfect opportunity for him to reanchor but he was down below.

The storm had interrupted me in the middle of a project so I was back on deck trying to finish up before round two commenced. I looked over and there was Dragging Guy in dry clothes, wearing his backpack, getting into his dinghy to leave his boat and go ashore. His boat was 40 feet from the unoccupied boat next to us and sitting too close to us as well, with an unset hook. For the life of me I don’t understand why he wanted me to choke him.

I stopped what I was doing and stood and stared at him. When he pulled away in the dinghy I called him over and asked him why he wasn’t resetting while he had the opportunity. He looked at me, then at the surrounding boats and said “do you think I moved?” I almost fell off the boat. “Are you kidding me? dragged? you moved at least 100 yards. You were in front of the guy in front of me, I don’t even know how you slipped past him” He looked around again and said “Ya know, I think you’re right” Ya think?

He lamented the fact that he was having such a hard time getting his boat to stay put. I asked if he had a second hook he could put down. He said “yeah, but every time I do that, they get all tangled”. I said “well maybe you should reconsider it; you’ve already hit the dock once and almost took out all 3 of us just now”

He headed back to his boat, pulled the anchor and moved off to try again. We watched in astonishment as he dropped his hook then immediately dropped the second one right next to it. Seriously, one off the port bow and then the other one immediately off the starboard side not 5 feet apart. Geez, I wonder how they get tangled? Where’s my rum?

Boat Name of the Day. Sometimes large powerboats are referred to as "Clorox bottles" because of the resemblance. Big, white, pointy at one end, look like plastic, that sort of thing. Today we saw a power boater with a different point of view and a sense of humor. His boat was named the "Big White Blob"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 24, 2008.

We’re here in Baltimore. Let me start off with the list of negatives. It’s not really much of a list as there’s only one thing we hate about Baltimore. The water is absolutely filthy.

We’ve transited New York Harbor several times and have seen some pretty impressive chunks of discarded humanity floating around while there. But nothing could have prepared us for this. Every ten feet as you cross the harbor there’s a piece of trash floating about. Plastic bottles, bags and all the refuse of civilization, everywhere. Just today alone I counted 5 basketballs and a soccer ball.

Most of it seems to come from the street drains which empty through culverts into the harbor. The water doesn’t really flow out to the bay from Baltimore, it kind of moves out with the tide but rides the tide back in before it has the chance to escape the city. There are floating barriers across these drains which do trap a spectacular amount of debris. Then everyday a small garbage collection boat shows up and traps and collects most of the trash. There are even small Jon boats with guys wielding dip nets that move about in an effort to collect as much trash as possible. The city really does seem to be trying and I can’t really understand how with all this effort there are not better results. It’s disgusting.

So much for that. So far, everything else about the city has been great. Before we arrived here we had heard about the Aquarium and the revitalization of the Baltimore waterfront. We just didn’t have any idea of the scope of all these improvements. There’s a brick and board promenade that borders much of the waterfront. It’s in constant use by brigades of dog walkers, bicyclists, people strolling and runners. It seems like its miles in length.

There are several marinas convenient to the downtown area. We found a really good spot to anchor with decent protection just off the public dinghy dock. There’s a grocery store and a West Marine within a blocks walk. We’ve seen just about every store imaginable within a few short blocks with the exception of a Home Depot. Enough of my being ambassador to the city.

We’re anchored among five other sailboats in a spot that might hold 8 or 10 boats. On our second night here there was a line of violent thunderstorms moving through the area. At the Francis Scott Key Bridge there was 45 knots of wind, a deluge and golf ball sized hail reported. We’re 4 miles upstream of the bridge and only got 20 knots of wind so things were okay for us. We could see the rain just blot out the lights from that part of the skyline while we never had a drop. The forecast for the next night foretold of similar weather patterns forming.

Since there’s a few other boats in this fairly tight anchorage we are sitting fairly short scoped on our anchor. We’d decided that we’d get up in the morning and move to another even more protected spot just a half mile away. We had seen this spot while on a bike tour of town with the Makeitso’s and best of all it was empty.

But…….it didn’t happen that way. When I got up and checked the weather the forecast had mellowed a bit, although thunderstorms were pretty much still a possibility. The other boats in the anchorage hadn’t dragged or been a threat during the blow so we felt confident that they were pretty well set on their anchors. The new anchorage would also add a lot of distance to our twice daily dog walking so we decided to stay where we were. Actually, it could be argued that I was being lazy.

We spent the day out and about and made sure we were home when evening rolled around. And roll around it did. Ominous clouds swept past us on either side and when we checked the weather radar we could see that it was only a matter of time before something big and ugly set upon us.

As the wind started to build to 15 knots from a day long dead calm a new boat came into the anchorage. He did a quick tour of what was available to him before he decided to anchor at the edge of our little group. He was alone which meant he had to drop and set the anchor by himself. I watched with satisfaction as he did a real nice job of securing his boat without help. Or so it seemed.

Then the rain came and the wind started to howl. We were sitting in the cockpit keeping an eye on the situation when things really deteriorated in a hurry. It was pouring buckets and the water was whipped into a large chop. Then we were hit by a gust so violent that I thought we must have popped the anchor out of the bottom. As I realized our anchor was still set I looked out in amazement as one of our neighbors swung through 360 degrees in about 10 seconds. He was rolling, gunnel to gunnel while pivoting around through all the points of the compass. This was inside a harbor with great 360 degree protection. It must have been a waterspout attempting to form.

The majority of the wind had been from the west, then it hit us from every direction and then built tremendously and came from the east. I looked out and saw that the last guy into the anchorage had broken loose and was dragging away from us. I called him twice on the VHF with no response. The only chatter was from a couple of tug boat captains using phrases like, “penny sized hail, never before seen 4 foot rollers in the harbor and forty knot winds”. Not exactly the topics of conversation I was looking to hear.

Christy grabbed the air horn and gave it a couple of loud blasts in an effort to rouse the Captain. In another minute or two we could see him on deck running around. We realized that he was being blown parallel to the docks and had a good chance of hitting our friends, The Makeitsos. They’re tied to a face dock and are about 100 yards downwind of the dragging boat. Christy called them on the cell phone and warned them to look out, company might be dropping in.

They donned their foulies just in time to watch the wind veer and slam the dragging boat onto an unoccupied section of the dock well behind their boat. They ran down and helped the guy secure his boat and rig fenders to try and minimize damage.

He was the only real excitement of the evening and the wind mellowed for a while but continued to slam us periodically during the next several hours. When dawn came it was the beginning of a beautiful day. In the end we were fine but I was a little embarrassed about being so complacent. It won’t happen again but if it does I hope we’re as lucky then too.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 21, 2008.

Weems Creek was so nice that we decided to spend 2 nights there. That, and the fact that Tropical Storm Cristobal was waltzing up the coast just offshore. Weems offers a lot of protection so we decided to sit for the extra night to allow the tropical storm to get north of us before we headed back out onto the bay. It ended up being the right decision as we were pummeled by a vicious thunderstorm just after dark.

This morning after leaving Weems Creek we had to go down the Severn River to the bay. The river was crowded with navy cadets getting their first taste of sailing at the academy. We had to stop in and get fuel while passing through Annapolis. The fuel wasn’t the issue, it was water we were in need of. So after 30 gallons of fuel and 150 gallons of water we were headed to the Magothy River.

There’s a small island in a cove off the Magothy River that’s been recommended as a nice anchorage. We’re able to motorsail right into the cove and tuck in behind Dobbins Island.

On the weekend this place is a local’s hangout, but since its Tuesday we’re pleased to find only a half dozen boats here. We’ve heard that on the weekend there can be 200+ boats here. It’s a small island with very steep cliffs on 3 sides, on the backside is a crescent shaped area of “beachiness”. We dropped the hook in ten feet of water and after rigging our sunshades we both dropped in for a swim. The water is chocolate brown (gross) and I can’t begin to explain how warm it is. Its way warmer than anywhere we’ve been, even the Bahamas. It’s kinda creepy and there's no jellyfish, that can't be good. I cleaned the boats water line while Christy floated around a bit. The water was so warm that it was not refreshing.

What Dobbins Island does have is flies; thousands of little biting flies. We both had to slather on the bug killer, then I had to spray poison on all the sunshades and we still killed them by the hundreds with the swatter. We skipped going through Georgia and South Carolina primarily because of the flies. These are worse. Down south as soon as the boat stopped, the flies disappeared, here it was the opposite. We’ve got screens and poison everywhere, it’s miserable.

We did have to take the dogs to shore and I was kinda surprised when Christy opted to go with us. I can’t begin to accurately describe the algae/ seaweed that lines the shore of the island. Picture every pinch of hair anyone’s ever cleaned from the shower drain; it’s all been saved and lies here at the waters edge. When we pulled up to shore in the dink we both just looked at it. I found myself longing for the good old days of medical waste washing up on the Jersey Shore. Finally we had to step in and haul the dink up on the shore so the dogs could romp. Mercifully, the dogs were quick about their business and we were back in the dink and swarmed with a cloud of flies. As soon as we got back to the boat Christy got me the can of Yard Guard and I doused the dinghy and killed a hundred flies in an instant. We had been considering a couple of nights here, but now that we’ve been here we figure we could make it to Baltimore by noon tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July 18, 2008.

We left Wye Island yesterday with every intention of heading across the bay and spending 2 nights in the South River. Didn’t happen though.

While underway Christy called the marina in Baltimore we’re headed to in a couple of days, to make a reservation. We’re having mail and some items that we’ve ordered sent there to meet us. It’s actually being sent to our friends the Makeitso’s as their spending two months there.

We thought we’d be arriving on the 20th for a weeks stay. A couple of days ago when we first called, the woman told us that if we stayed for at least 8 days the price would be calculated at the monthly rate, based on an 8 day stay. Its $80 a day to stay there, but only $588 for a month so we were figuring 10 days would be less than $200. Then yesterday, on the phone the story had changed. If you stay more than 8 days they just automatically charge you $588 (plus $10 per day for electric) for the month. There is no weekly rate. Shit. $588 to stay a week is more than we want to part with, so we decided that since we’d be paying for the month we might as well go straight there and spend closer to 2 weeks rather than just a week for the same money.

So that meant to hell with South River and we reset our course for Baltimore. The only problem with this plan was that the breeze was exceptionally light and the tide was running out against us. This gave us way too many hours to weigh our options and flip flop back and forth on our newest plan.

After a few hours of northward progress we finally decided that we didn’t want to spend so much money for time at a dock. So when we get there we’ll anchor for a few days, maybe take a slip for 2 nights and then anchor once again until all our mail arrives. Normally, we would just opt to spend the entire time on the hook but from what we’ve heard the anchoring possibilities are fairly bleak. We’ll see what happens when we get there.

So in the meantime, we turned hard to port and we headed into Annapolis once again. We had been internet-less for a few days and we can get online in Annapolis and catch up on mail and check the shipping progress of our soon-to-be new watermaker. We yet again dodged a hundred tiny sailboats as we entered the harbor. We decided to anchor right in front of the Naval Academy. There seemed to be a spot in near shore, just our size. As dumb luck would have it, Sapphire turned out to be our neighbor.

They’ve been hop scotching around the bay as we have and they arrived here 2 days ago. They actually tried to leave here and head north earlier today and had the same lack of success that we did so they turned around and came back.

They were here to pick up their new sewing machine and have been pretty busy with projects. We ended up having dinner with them ashore followed by cocktails on the Veranda afterwards.

The next evening we spent a few hours on their boat and enjoyed the start of the Annapolis to Solomon’s Island race. It’s an overnight race and at least 2 hundred boats in several divisions set sail for the overnight race.

The next morning Sapphire headed south towards their scheduled haulout in Deltaville, Va. We went into town and rode the bus out to the grocery store to do a little reprovisioning.

In the afternoon the winds veered a bit and made the anchorage very uncomfortable. We decided to pull the hook and head up the Severn River to Weems Creek. The allure of Weems Creek is that the Navy maintains several hurricane moorings there for their small training vessels. You’re allowed to pick up a mooring on a first come first serve basis whenever there’s no Navy boat on them.

We arrived in picturesque Weems Creek and picked up the last mooring available. Usually a mooring will have a pennant (a piece of line) on top that Christy will grab with the boat pole. Once she has the pennant onboard she secures it and we’re all set. The navy moorings turned out to be a little different. Instead of a line they all had just 1 foot of heavy chain hanging from the top of each mooring. The bow of our boat is so high that the chain can’t be pulled up high enough for Christy to attach a line to. So we had to adapt. We decided that she would be able to reach the chain if I brought the boat alongside the mooring about amidships instead of under the bow. I pulled the boat up alongside the mooring and let the breeze push us down upon it. Christy laid on the side deck and slipped a dock line through the last link of the mooring chain. Then we switch places and as she backed the boat away from the ball I walk the attached line to the bow and cleated it off. Perfect, secure and set for the night.

Friday, July 18, 2008

July 16, 2008.

Wye Island is desolate and beautiful.
Last night we took the dinghy down the river to take some pictures of a plantation that’s visible from the water. The dogs both really enjoy flying along at 15 knots in the dink, especially when it’s hot as hell, like it is here.

Today was even hotter and we decided to hang around and do some boat projects. Christy cleaned the BBQ grill and then we decided that since the water was dead calm and there was no breeze whatsoever, it was time to go to the masthead and replace our windex. The windex was destroyed when some type of condor tried to land on it about 18 months ago. I’m not really crazy about heights so I’ve been patiently waiting for the perfect anchorage to take replace the windex.

I got the new windex (which has been on board for 18 months since its purchase) assembled and got the lines rigged to haul me aloft. This involves me strapping into the bosun’ chair and Christy using the anchor windlass and the main sail halyard to haul me up. Christy tails the line and controls the speed of my ascent until I’m at the masthead.

Then she cleats off the line while I work, before hand belaying me back down. The installation of the new windex went smoothly and I was back on deck in five minutes.

A good portion of the island that we’ve been able to see is planted with various crops. All afternoon there was a crop duster spraying all the surrounding fields on the island. It was actually a pretty good private airshow as he barreled overhead at tree top level from field to field. We decided to take the dogs in for an afternoon walk. I’ve been taking them to a spot that runs the length of a barley field, but we weren’t real happy about taking them for a walk there since it had just been sprayed with some chemical, so we decided to try something new.

This area of the park including the gazebo, a pavilion and some other buildings can be rented out for private functions. There’s a small dock at the edge of this area with a sign that says “No pets in the pavilion area”. We decided to land the dogs there and turned towards the very long driveway that leads away from this complex. There’s 30 foot wide strip of grass on either side of the half mile long gravel driveway.

So technically we’d landed the dogs in an area that’s against the rules but then walked them straight away from the area. Of course, when our walk was just about over a Park Ranger on patrol spotted us and stopped to watch. To get back to the dinghy we had to walk into the restricted area, get past him and get into the dink. As soon as we start through the area he hopped out of the truck and walked over to intercept us on the way to the dock. I’ve already got my “we used the driveway, poor puppy bladders, chemicals from the sky” speech ready to go. I was expecting the worst but the guy couldn’t have been nicer. He said “hey” to us, played with the dogs and just explained about this being a rental area which includes the dock we tied up to. It wasn’t a problem today since nobody was using the place. He just wanted us to realize that it could be a problem the next time we come back to Wye Island, since everybody comes back to Wye. I don’t blame them either, it’s a nice place.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 15, 2008.

We’ve finally arrived at Wye Island. It took us a few more days to get out of St. Michaels but that’s okay, it’s a great place to hang out.

This morning I was awakened by the very closely anchored boat, directly behind us, running his generator at 0630. At first, I thought that I must be dreaming because nobody, but nobody could be that inconsiderate. I was wrong. I was laying there trying to decide, should I go topsides and debate the issue with him at the top of my lungs when I realized that I’ve had a few encounters of that type lately. First there was “speedboat guy” towing his kids then there was “tiny little bitch, dog hater guy” and now “crack of dawn generator guy”. Is it me? Am I getting testy, to easily? I’m mellow, I’m quiet, I’m a “half full” kinda guy…. this isn’t me. I decided to relax a bit……..Om, Ommm….and hopefully somebody else would lose their mind so I wouldn’t have too.

Then the screaming started, no not me. Some dipshit power boat guy was yelling for his wife. It was like a 25 foot boat, is there really any reason to yell? Anyway, I got up to ascertain what was going on and I saw him lying on his belly on the swim platform. He was crabbing with a drop line and couldn’t reach his dip net to nab his catch. Who lies on their belly to catch crabs? Especially at 0645? Christ, it must be me; I’ve become an asshole magnet.

So, I’ve had 2 encounters before 0645 and the day has just begun. I was wide awake now, so with morbid curiosity I was waiting to see what the rest of my day would bring.

The trip to Wye Island was less than 5 miles and was a motor trip straight into a very light breeze. Once you head up the Wye River the western end of the island presents itself to you. The island is several miles long and about a mile wide and most of it is a state park encompassing 2550 acres. The water is deep all the way around the island so you can go either left or right when you arrive.

We turned to starboard as the southern shore of the island seemed to present more opportunities for anchoring. It’s a wide meandering river that we were sharing with several small boatloads of crabbers. We discounted one anchorage after another as we moved along. One was too exposed, one was full of crab pots and then we arrived at Dividing Creek. One of the guides we have reported that they’ve seen as many as 99 boats in Dividing Creek on a weekend. As the mouth of the creek came abeam we could see all the way up the fairly straight creek. There was only one cruising boat anchored in the creek, so there was plenty of room for us but we continue on as we were looking for a little more privacy.

After another mile we turned into the total seclusion of Granary Creek. Another of our considerations when choosing our anchorage is whether there is a place to land the dogs ashore. On the western bank there’s a small gravel patch that runs down into the water, and at the top of the riverbank there is a rack full of canoes and this is their launch site. So this must be part of the park system, perfect. We dropped the hook in 8 feet of water and settled in for our 2 day stay. Once we were set we started to examine the shoreline more closely and that’s when we saw it…….

We have friends that were married here on the island back in May. We had been invited but had to decline as there was no way we were going to be able to get this far north by May. We got to see photos of the ceremony which took place in a quaint woodland gazebo. Not 40 yards from our boat is what I’m pretty sure is the same gazebo.

It was their invitation that was the impetus for our trip to Wye River. We didn’t even know the place existed until we got the invitation. Since we weren’t going to be able to attend, we never paid attention to the actual location on the island where the ceremony was to take place and now by dumb luck and guided by the bowelular requirements of the dogs we’re anchored in exactly that spot. Dumb luck or incredible intuitional navigational abilities… be the judge. Of course for all we know the island could be sprinkled with dozens of these gazebos. But I’m a “half full” kinda guy so this is definitely the only one.

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 14, 2008.

Well, we’re still here. When we first arrived in Saint Michaels the inside anchorages were overflowing with boats at anchor. So we opted to anchor outside amongst a half dozen other boats. By the time Saturday night rolled around the anchorage around us had swelled to some fifty boats.

So our plan was to get up and take our time heading out to Wye Island for a few days. By the time we got up several boats were gone and as we ate breakfast we watched a steady stream of boats depart the anchorage. I guess the majority were here for the weekend and were now on their way home to start the workweek. Even most of the boats inside the harbor were leaving.

So instead of heading over to Wye we decided to relocate to the protected inner harbor here in Saint Mikes. So, at 1100 we weighed anchor, motored three quarters of a mile and dropped the hook once again.

We spent most of the rest of the day sitting on the boat watching boats come and go. In the late afternoon we decided to head out for a little dinghy tour to see the sights. The larger boat was towing the smaller boat, that much we got although the Queen Anne sofa on the roof did throw us.

The reason we had intended to go to Wye Island was to hide form a front that was due to hit. Once we were inside the harbor, we decided that we had enough protection to handle the forecast winds.

As soon as twilight started to settle in, the winds started to pick up. We had been facing south but in 30 seconds we were facing west, then northwest. The wind picked up to about 15 knots and there were gusts into the low twenties but we rode it out in relative calm.

So once again we’re off to Wye in the morning……maybe.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 12, 2008.

We woke to a glorious day here in Saint Michaels. The dog walking here is accomplished on spectacular fields of lush green grass. The dogs were actually skipping along at the end of their leashes. I swear.

After returning the dogs to the boat, Christy and I went in to explore town. First off, there’s a centrally located dinghy dock right in the heart of everything (<~I know that’s redundant, but I don’t care). We started the day with a short trek to the Saturday morning Farmers Market where there were about a half dozen stands of local produce. The only downside of buying fresh produce grown locally is that we’ll probably miss out on that whole Mexican vegetable salmonella craze. First the Macarena and now this, sometimes we’re just so out of the loop.

After procuring some veggies we were off to see the town, and what a town it is. Its got all the same touristy crap that so many other waterfront towns have except this place just seems a little different. It has somehow managed to maintain some of that small town wholesomeness. The main drag is lined with one charming store front after another. The street was packed with nothing but tourists but it just didn’t seem touristy, if that makes any sense. This home was built in 1766 and was moved to its present site in 2000 and there’s not a crack to be seen. After spending the morning walking town we headed back to the boat for lunch.

After lunch we decided to hit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The place reminds me very much of Mystic, Connecticut.
The first thing you encounter when coming in the front entrance is a lift bridge that has been moved to the museum, after it was replaced by a high rise bridge. Instead of shitcanning the old bridge they reinstalled it across the entrance to the parks grounds. It gives car bound visitors the experience of passing under a lift bridge, like a boat, rather than driving across it as a car would. It’s kind of bizarre to see.

We came in through the back door so to speak, from the water. We went from building to building seeing exhibits concerning everything to do with the bay. There were of course boatbuilding displays and several examples of skipjacks, bugeyes and log canoes. The log canoes were very reminiscent of the Bahamanian sailing dinghies with the hiking boards hung way out over the gunnels.

There was an entire building dedicated to waterfowl hunting. There was an impressive collection of firearms confiscated by the state game wardens in the last hundred and some years. These guns were huge and could be heard for miles. They were mounted in a small boat pointing out over the waters surface. The “hunter” would use small paddles that looked like ping pong paddles and sneak up to the edge of a sleeping flock of ducks or geese. He aimed the gun by pointing the bow of the boat at his targets. Some guns had several barrels that all fired in unison while others had a single barrel that was big enough that you could fit your hand into. Some of these guns were twelve feet long and had to be lifted into the boat by 2 men. These huge guns were loaded with birdshot and when fired they could maim a hundred sleeping birds in a single fierce explosion.
These monstrous guns were outlawed in the 1800’s and confiscated whenever one was found. James Michener describes this type of gun in his book The Chesapeake and seeing some examples in person really drove home the destructive capabilities of these huge weapons.

We also learned a lot about what’s going on in all those Waterman’s boats we see out fishing the bay. The whole oyster and crab fisheries are explained really well with a lot of interesting displays. This picture is of a “keeper” oyster from the present time and of a “keeper” from the 1700’s. They were so plentiful that the oystermen back in the day didn’t have to take all the oysters, just the big ones. That shell was twice the size of my hand. I can’t swallow an oyster in this day and age, an oyster back in those days would have been like trying to swallow a puppy fetus. Yeah, visualize that the next time you’re having oysters. (Editor's note~> Sorry)

They have one of the old “screwpile” lighthouses on display. They’re called screwpile lighthouses because several large augers were screwed into the bottom and acted as the foundation for this style construction. We’ve been in a few but this was by far the best example we’ve seen. Theres more room than you would expect, but would have been a very bleak existence for the light keeper. We did learn something that we didn’t know about this type of lighthouse.
The keeper had to get up in the morning and draw the blinds around the Fresnel lens. The reason was to prevent the sun from beating in on the lens as the lens would refract the sunlight and magnify it possibly setting fire to the lighthouse. Who knew, not me.

After the museum we went to the Crab Claw Restaurant for dinner. The place was packed, by dumb luck we got the best table in the place, the food was top notch and I went home fat and happy.

Tomorrow’s trip will be an hour or so to Wye Island to hide from the blow that’s been forecast.