Joshua Slocum - from Sailing Alone Around The World
There’s too much for one post ...
Here's Part 1 of Chesapeake Charm!
Sept - Oct. 2016
She's far more than just a big bay of water.
She's an entire mindset and consciousness wrapped up in a rich history and unique charm all her own. It's no wonder the Chesapeake Bay attracts so much attention from so many sailors. I was a newbie here this year, but its now clear why she remains a destination and home port for so many people that embrace her maritime magic.
One of my favorite things about transient cruising is the international flare of fellow sailors you encounter wherever you go. The entire globe is very well represented with people of like mind out there living this wonderful lifestyle of challenge, exploring, and rewards.
Just yesterday I had an engaging conversation with an English couple aboard their catamaran, Miss Molly. They had recently returned from sailing up the Rio Dulce River in Guatemala and were preparing for their third season in the Bahamas.
After that a French couple gladly accepted my offer of 2 gallons of mixed gasoline since I did not want to store fuel on my boat while away. They were traveling aboard a beautiful bright red ketch rig that they had built themselves. Quite impressive.
Next, a German couple aboard a 33 footer recalled a friendly encounter we had shared just two weeks ago in a grocery store in Annapolis. It's a small world in this circuit.
Then there was the young Dutch couple with their 9 year old son today. They helped catch my lines as I docked my boat at Deltaville Yachting Center. I was coming in and they were going out, but it was still a magical moment of exchanging pleasantries and boat talk. Truly like ships passing in the night I thought as they steered their sloop, with the freshly painted bottom, from the confines of the marina on to new seas and shores.
Then there are the Canadians. They are everywhere! They love their winters in the Bahamas and back home for their summers.
Despite geographic distances, we all share the same love of adventure, the desire for experiencing new things, the sense of accomplishment derived from crossing seas and arriving safely in beautiful anchorages.
The list goes on and on of sailors who've crossed my path where friendly camaraderie was fully embraced.
There is a misconception that to live the cruising lifestyle one must be independently wealthy or somehow received a special privilege or inheritance to allow such unbridled freedom. Not true at all! Many cruisers, myself included, are traveling on a tight budget and worked hard to finally pay off a boat that is a fraction the cost of an average home.
It's sort of like RV-ing, but on the water, because you get to take your home wherever you go. And if you choose to anchor-out more instead of frequenting marinas the costs are reduced even further. I like to think of an anchorage as a free campsite. You get the million dollar view without the crowds and without the million dollar expense!
There are also boat owners who prefer to pay a monthly fee and remain in the security of a marina. Either way, it is a nice lifestyle on the water and far cheaper than renting or owning a home. I have to explore, so long term marina life is not for me at this point and time.
Returning to the Bay after 4 weeks back home in Georgia gave me goose bumps flying back into Baltimore. A rental car would take me back to Zahnisers Yachting Center in Solomons, Maryland. It turned out to be a great marina to leave Glory Days for a short spell. Good people here.
Between my stints at single handling Glory Days, Sherry was able to join me for a couple weeks. We did our best to seek out many small towns and remote anchorages along the Eastern Shore around Maryland and Delaware.Solomons, Maryland is a funky little town with friendly people that served as my central headquarters for the Chesapeake cruising of 2016. The daily sunset display over the Patuxent River attracts lots of folks who view it from the riverwalk each day at dusk.
Gulls pose on pilings as if it were their civic duty.
Sailors from all over the world routinely drop the anchor in Solomons for a few days as they make their way up the Chesapeake Bay. Attracted by its protected harbor, small town atmosphere, and the beautiful Patuxent River, many a couple have savored the magic here.
Don't miss the Dry Dock restaurant.
We splurged here.
The Patuxent riverwalk brings out the best in people.
The Tiki Bar is a funky section on the east side of Solomons where the night life prevails just a short walk away from the marinas. Stroll through the sand as you visit various shops and taverns.
Just to be on the safe side, I had a full rigging inspection while in Solomons. The rigging of a sailboat is not an area you want to ever cut corners on. She passed the inspection, but there are a couple of small issues that will need to be addressed in the future.
People-watching at a weekend arts festival in Solomons was productive. I love my 600mm lens because people never know I'm shooting them.
Dining on two dozen steamed crabs from the local Captain Smith's take-out was a job.
I think we over ordered.
I think we over ordered.
So long Solomons. Little did I know I would be back here in two weeks on my way south to Deltaville for winter storage.
As soon as the fog cleared the following morning, we pointed our bow towards St. Michaels, Maryland.
We would enter from the south via San Domingo creek. Here are some scenes along the way of this 40 miler on a crystal clear day.
Lighthouses on stilts like this are still functioning navigation aids for ships and little shiplets like me. There are 71 lighthouses on the Chesapeake Bay, each one very different in their history and design.
Some of them seemed like deserted old homes. Oh what stories they could tell.
"Yes sir, Captain. I'll be right up!"
Heading north, this barge was crashing against the forces of the bay creating a fierce and reckless spray over her decks. The mighty tug pushing her never gave in or let up to the forces.
Welcome to St. Michaels, Maryland. Some folks would say St. Michaels is too touristy. Maybe so, but we still found it very charming with lots of history and things to see. It rained steadily our first two days there but it didn't seem to dampen our fun.
The dinghy dock on San Domingo Creek was a peaceful respite and only a short walk from town.
Quaint shops, narrow streets, friendly locals, and beautiful homes make St. Michaels a wonderful stop.
St. Michaels is home to a spectacular maritime museum showcasing the rich history of the bay, it's remarkable crabs and oyster industry, and how it has evolved over the past 200+ years. Little did I know how it all came to be and how crusty old salts built unique vessels to serve in challenging conditions.
This boat is called a skipjack and was vital to the oyster industry. You don't see these down south.
The museum covers 18 acres and is the most interactive museum I have ever experienced. With 35 buildings scattered throughout the campus, it houses the world's largest collection of 'bay boats'. Our docent led tour was very educational.
One section of the museum is devoted to the art of boatbuilding where employees, local apprentices and volunteers assist in the re-creation and restoration of historical wooden boats.
Another skipjack is currently being restored by volunteers and craftsmen at the Maritime Museum.A restored 1879 lighthouse on site was moved from Hooper Straight, 40 miles away.
This is the fresnel lens (pronounced FRAY nel) from a typical older lighthouse of the Chesapeake. In the old days it was the duty of the lighthouse keeper to keep this baby lit 24/7. If you are unlucky enough to be caught in a storm at sea, there's nothing more reassuring than the friendly wink from a nearby lighthouse to get your bearings for safe navigation. It was kept lit by a kerosene lamp.
You could easily spend 2 days at the Maritime Museum, and we certainly did. Click here if you are a history buff and want to know more about the maritime history of the Chesapeake!
The Maritime Museum - St. Michaels, Maryland
While sailing to Oxford on the following day Glory Days' log meter tripped over to the 4000 mile mark. It seemed only fitting to mark the moment and give thanks to God for over three years of safe and blessed cruising aboard this lovely lady.
Watch out for the big boys while you are out there, mate.
Next stop, Oxford, Maryland.
Oxford, Maryland ... what an interesting little town. Very quiet with hardly any commerce except for a few marinas, one small mom & pop market, and a solitary bed and breakfast. Quiet tree lined streets and lots of white picket fences surround older beautifully restored homes.
If you're looking for lots of touristy shops, restaurants, and people watching this is not the place. Evidently, Oxford is a second home community to lots of wealthy folks who just want to get away from it all. It's about a 90 minute drive from D.C.
This little beach welcomes sailors and is a great place to land your dinghy when coming ashore into Oxford.The public dock in Oxford is for day use and offers easy access to town.
Here's a humbling tale of a misunderstanding.
It's funny how easy it is to misjudge people. On a gorgeous morning when Sherry and I were having our greet-the-day-coffee in the cockpit I did just that.
I was just enjoying the peaceful dawn with guitar in hand, when suddenly a crab fisherman approached us in his long white boat. He steered his boat directly toward me, scarcely looking up as he scooped up crabs with a hand held net along the way. He kept getting closer and closer, finally passing our boat missing us by a mere 24 inches! "What a jerk" I thought and then yelled "Could you get any closer buddy?"
He gave no reply, no wave, no acknowledgment what-so-ever and cruised by unfazed. He continued to pass us every few minutes each time barely missing Glory Days. "What's with this?" I thought to myself as I became increasingly annoyed.
Again he headed right toward us, and this time I sounded my horn. Still unfazed, he passed closely again. Was he intentionally coming so close to run us off?
Then suddenly it hit me!
If you look closely at the photo above you will notice a rope, which is called a trot line, and it's pulled taunt on the right side of his boat. A trot line is a fixed rope secured underwater that has a series of crab baits tied along the line. There is a pulley system attached to the boat that allows him to glide along the trot line scooping up crabs. He must follow this path in order to harvest his crabs because the trot line is secured to the bottom. He has no choice in the path he takes.
So here I was grinding my teeth at this local fisherman when really it was ME the rude intruder anchored on top of his crab line! Suddenly my anger turned to humility and I pondered what thoughts this old timer fisherman was having about me, the trespassing tourist. I quickly hoisted up my anchor and relocated about a hundred yards to the north allowing him his entitled space to fish his crab line. I was a little embarrassed to say the least.
You never really know and things aren't always what they seem at first pass. Just when I was convinced someone else was doing me wrong, it turns out the jerk was ME all along! He tipped his hat as he made his last pass of the day along the trot line, and suddenly all was good again. :)
Sherry is still working on a graceful entry into the dinghy from the stern ladder of Glory Days. Believe me, it does require a bit of balance and poise, especially in rough weather. If all else fails, just aim your arse for the dink and let gravity do the rest.
Thankfully, she's a real trooper with it all. Other than her occasional shrieks of fear when the boat heels over in a good wind, she has been a great cruising partner ever since I roped her into this gig 2 years ago. "Baby steps" was our mantra getting her fully on board and in step with sailing.Lovely anchorages like this come straight from heaven. Add a little live music, a smidge of good wine, and a dose of love and you have yourself a dream come true.
... And they just keep on coming.
|Occasionally, I like to play with photo filters to get shots like this.|
So long for now!
Stay tuned for the next posting:
Part 2 of The Chesapeake Charm, which will include:
Annapolis - 3 weeks in this historical city!
The U.S. Naval Academy - new faith in our youth!
The Annapolis Boat Show - working the show!
More Eastern Shore: Onancock, stripers and eagles!
Deltaville - final days on the Bay before storage!
|An Annapolis cadet on his way !|