Part 2: The Chesapeake Charm:
On to ANNAPOLIS! - Sept - Oct. 2016
Reminiscing about this summer's sailing in the Chesapeake Bay is sort of like daydreaming about an old love. You just can't shake it or get it out of your head sometimes. It lingers there as a memory you will take to your grave. It's not a bad thing, and all you can really do is savor the memories and be thankful you have them.
Sherry was still aboard when we entered Annapolis and she excelled as first mate. Here she is taking a well deserved rest after we dropped the hook in Weems Creek. A welcome bask in the September sun was a nice reward for our crossing of the Bay from Oxford, Maryland into Annapolis. It would be a lovely three week stay for me here.
Arriving in Annapolis harbor, we were suddenly in a bustling a bustling array of activity. All types of sailboat types darted all around on this crystal clear Sunday afternoon. It's an awesome small city to see, so much character, history, and charm. The number of boats and marinas in this coastal community is astounding.
There is always some sort of regatta going on as was the case on the day of our arrival. Classic wooden boats squared off in friendly competition each jockeying to clear the next buoy. It didn't take long for me to figure out I had better stay on the sidelines while these guys sparred for position on this Sunday afternoon sail-athon.
The morning view from the v-berth was pleasing as we assessed how to plan our first day of sight seeing in Annapolis. It would be a 30 minute walk from Weems Creek into the city. After a couple days at Weems creek, we opted for a mooring ball smack down town in the harbor.
I've never been much of a history buff until this visit to the Chesapeake. But strolling the same streets and visiting a 1700's pub where George Washington frequented quickly opened my eyes to the historical significance of this area.
It was hard to get a photo to illustrate the aerial beauty of this city so I've included a couple of stock photos below.
Old brick sidewalks are the norm here. Interesting to see everywhere but not so good for biking. Homes are tidy and colorful.
Talk about a funky building. This is the Maryland Inn. It's unusual triangular presence dominates the corner of Main Street and Duke of Gloucester Street.
Since 1784, The Maryland Inn has been a popular lodging place for statesman, governors, and colonial and revolutionary war personas throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Delegates of the 1783-1784 U.S. Congress stayed at the inn when George Washington resigned as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and ratified the Treaty of Paris.
The Middleton Tavern dates back to 1750. Oh, if these walls could talk. Row houses as seen below are a common sight downtown. A blend of funky and festive.
Wow. It was in this Maryland State House where George Washington honorably resigned his commission.
The U.S. Naval Academy
Since 1845 Annapolis has been the home of the U.S. Naval Academy. This expansive campus is located right in the center of town. It is a common site to see the young cadets in their dress whites most anywhere you go around Annapolis.
The architecture of the naval academy campus is big and bold. Marble floors, towering rotundas, and stone pillars are common elements in a sturdy construction that will be here for centuries ahead.
A naval history memorial to honor fallen soldiers, distinguished navy admirals and American war heroes is located on the first floor of the main cadet dormitory. The "Don't Give Up The Ship" plaque lists the names of those who sacrificed all to preserve American freedoms. It was a solemn visit to this museum and I felt the need to thank them in silence.
I spoke with some of the cadets and found each of them to be extremely smart, articulate, and polite as they carried themselves confidently. Almost everywhere on campus you could find outdoor physical education activities happening even in the rain. Not one overweight cadet did I see. All smart kids who were precisely selected based on their smarts, abilities, personal drive and strong character. I felt a renewed confidence in the youth of America.
On this Saturday, a young Captain was marrying his lady in the historical Naval Academy Chapel. Pretty people in colorful attire spilled out of the chapel for photos on a gorgeous afternoon.
On Sunday morning I attended the church service and was in awe of the Naval Academy Chapel as seen from the inside. It is a breathtaking facility, unfortunately with lots of empty pews on this Sunday.
A bust of naval hero John Paul Jones is on display on the lower level and his his body is in a solid marble crypt on grand display. He was exhumed from Europe 100 years after his death and brought here for some reason. To honor his heroics and naval contributions I assume.
Born in 1747, he is considered one of the greatest naval commanders in history, often referred to as the "Father Of The U.S. Navy." At a height of 5'4" he must've been one scrappy little dude as he shouted his famous battle line "I have not yet begun to fight!" when he stormed the British frigate during the American Revolutionary War.
"If fear is cultivated it will become stronger, if faith is cultivated it will achieve mastery."
John Paul Jones
THE 2016 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW!!
My main reason to come to Annapolis was for the massive on-water boat show. It will remain one of the highpoints of my cruising experiences.
Memories like early morning walks up the charming Main Street lined with shops and eateries to get coffee make me smile. Plus there were fond times dropping in the Ram's Head Bar where a daily complimentary food treat is served during happy hour each day. This appetizer usually turned into a evening meal for me. Mmmmmmm. Steamed muscles on Monday, raw oysters on Tuesday, tender prime rib on Wednesday, stuffed potatoes on Thursday, and fish sandwiches on Friday.
Their great craft beers on tap are half price from their local brewery each day from 5-7. At the bar I would often find myself sitting next to a new stranger. Eventually the conversation would come around to sailing, as most folks in this town have some sailing background, knowledge, or experience. Boat talk is always a common bonder of two people when you are a stranger in a strange land.
After Sherry returned back to Georgia I found myself with a full week in Annapolis before the greatest boat show in the world would begin. I landed myself a job working for the Annapolis Boat Show. It turned out to be a great thing and I met lots of other cruisers doing the same thing. At a whopping $9 and hour I worked as ticket taker, gate security, and at the information desk. They even gave me a vest, cap, name tag and a radio! Plus I got to enter the show for free all week long.
The show itself is somewhat of a gluttonous display of ultra expensive brand new sailing vessels that I will never be able to afford. They were all polished to the hilt and on display in hopes to lure a ready buyer. Early each morning before the show opened dozens of hispanic men and women would suddenly appear with cleaning and polishing tools in hand to make every new vessel shine for the next full day of boat lookers.
Plus there's a hundred or more vendors that offer every boating accessory one could ever imagine. It was the greatest toy store ever for me.
Somehow people were now asking ME for boat show information. Talk about the blind leading the blind. I eventually figured it out though and was able to come off looking like some person of authority. I guess I fooled them!
As the Boat Show continued it soon became a challenge to find a parking spot at the dinghy dock.
Meeting fellow cruisers is just a part of the atmosphere of cruising. This was a fun evening aboard a catamaran where we shared fine food and played ukuleles and sang till late.
Sherry returned for another short visit and we caught the last day of the boat show together. No, we did not buy a boat. Another day perhaps.
After the boat show my old friends Pete and Shenoa drove over from D.C. for a nice little day sail aboard Glory Days. It had been full year since I had rendezvoused with them in the Florida Keys and it was great to hook up again.
What started out as a lovely Sunday sail was soon cut short when I noticed I had a huge rip in the head sail known as the genoa sail. She was an old sail and finally just gave up the ghost when her aging dacron fabric just couldn't take the strain of a good wind anymore. So I lowered her down for the last time, kissed her for her fine service and then lugged her onto a public bus to the local sail shop to see if she could be saved.
At Bacon's Sails and Marine Shop, the sail experts opened her onto the operating table and gave her the once over. After some testing of the fabric it was determined she was too far gone to save. Age takes its toll on anything exposed to the marine conditions for these many years. We pronounced her gone and I soon shelled out a thousand bucks for a brand new replacement, a boating expense I had not figure on.
The new genoa sail is nice and shiny and I looked forward to putting her through her paces as I would soon be leaving Annapolis after a lovely stay.
By mid October it was high time to raise the sails again and begin heading south. My plans were unclear at the time as I wrestled with the idea of sailing back to Charleston or leaving the boat on the Chesapeake for the winter to resume a northbound course next spring.
Since I was unsure of my next move, I decided to venture across the Bay again to what is called the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Here I would explore some remote areas including some charming nooks and crannies. After all, October is a pretty spectacular month on the Chesapeake Bay, so why not let the wind guide my decision I thought.
And before you knew it, Annapolis was in my rear view mirror and I was back on my own doing what I love best... pulling up the anchor and just sailing the hell out her. She's a fine vessel this one and putting her through her paces never ceases to thrill me. Sometimes you don't need a firm destination. It will find you.
With strong southerlies on my nose it soon became obvious that I was not meant to sail south, but more east where I landed on one of the strangest islands ever, Tangier Island, with a population of 500. It was a rather strange place and for a moment I thought I had entered the Twilight Zone. More on that in Part 3!
* Eerie vibes on an island that stepped back into time!
* Then on to Onancock! The forgotten East shore village!
* More eagles, shipwrecks and an encounter with the newest supersonic naval ship!
All coming up on Part 3 of The Chesapeake Charm!