The Route South

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Life’s Good

Shells sink, dreams float.
Life’s good on our boat.
“Delany Talks to Statues”
Jimmy Buffett

Sunday July 9, 2006
We have intentionally put off going to St. Michaels because of the weekend traffic. That place is unbelievably popular and therefore, crowded. So we decided to get underway this morning, with the theory that most folks will be going home on Sunday afternoon. With that in mind we had the anchor up before 8:30 and were leaving the Tred Avon River, entering the Choptank by 9 AM. 10 AM found us at Knapp’s Narrows, waiting for the bridge-delayed by an ambulance while we maneuvered in tight quarters. Everybody behaved and by 10:30 we were through the bridge and out the other side and on our way to Poplar Island Narrows, the shortcut to Eastern Bay and the Miles River. By noontime we were around Tilghman Point and encountered an unbelievable amount of traffic, going the other way, among them Krogen friends Bob & Gail Higgenbothom on “Friendship”, a KK42. Looks like our plan might just work out.

Chesapeake Bay skipjack

Beautiful old boats
By 1 PM we were entering the harbor at St. Michaels. We were last there over 25 years ago and, as you would expect, it has changed quite a bit. My recollection was that the harbor used to be bigger. It is completely full now, but I’m guessing that there weren’t so many marinas cluttering the place up back then. Our plans for lunch ashore were discarded as we did a loop through the harbor and then anchored outside the entrance, in the river. A bit rolly, but I’m sure that will die down later in the evening. Cindy fixed us a bite of lunch and while we were eating we saw the boat “Sails” (a powerboat). We hailed them on the radio…they are from St. Pete. We have met them several times since they are old friends of Lon and Sondra Seay and Snipe sailors too. After lunch we took the dinghy in to the town dock and wandered around. Tons of tourists! We went in a few shops and wandered to the park at the other end of town (5 or 6 blocks), on the other side of the main street from the harbor. It is a beautiful little park with a dock, on San Domingo Creek, the “back door” into St. Michaels, probably the way we will come the next time. On the way back we found a few things at the grocery store and sampled the wares at one of the ice cream shops. OK, but not as good as the Scotsman’s place in Oxford.

Monday July 10, 2006
Lazy morning. We had coffee and breakfast and then did a little computer work. We are playing tourist today. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is located here, but it doesn’t open until 10 AM. We went ashore shortly before then, taking a harbor tour by dinghy first. Cruised through the creeks and looked at the beautiful homes, most of them older, swung past “Sails” but didn’t see any sign of life, and went over by the Inn at Perry Cabin, a famous and expensive resort located on the edge of St. Michaels. Saw one couple, no doubt paying mucho, mucho dollars to stay there, sitting at the harbor’s edge in Adirondack chairs, with their backs turned to the water, looking like they had absolutely no interest in the view. Why even bother to show up?

We entered the gates at CBMM shortly after opening and wandered around until after noon, taking in all the displays. There is a great boat-building shed where they have a program called “Apprentice for a Day”. You can sign up to help build a wooden skiff-$25 for Saturday or Sunday (you pay them and you do the work) and the skiffs they build there are mighty handsome. The one out in the yard must have been finished yesterday because the varnish hadn’t yet cured. We walked next door to “The Crab Claw” a local institution on the waterfront and had lunch and then went back to the museum for another hour or so. It was great, but by the time we headed back to MORNING STAR it was 3 PM and we were pretty beat. The museum has a great collection of small boats, mostly workboats, with the notable exception of Comet #1, Bluejay #1 and Snipe #1-all small recreational sailing dinghies. I used to sail Snipes a lifetime ago.
The view of some of the boat-building sheds at Chesapeake Bay Maratime Museum.
Restoration in process at CBMM
The old buy boat was restored at CBMM

We started the engine and pulled the anchor up and down the Miles to the Wye River and one of its branches, Wye East River. We fulfilled a promise when we took a left into Dividing Creek and anchored. This was one of Bob Wedan’s favorite anchorages and we promised him and ourselves that we’d visit it one day. We had the place to ourselves. It is some kind of state preserve and its totally wild and undeveloped. After getting the boat straightened up we poured a toddy for ourselves, with an extra tot of rum for Bob. We gave his to the creek, in his memory. We called Elaine in Clearwater then Mom & Chuck & Jane and Sam in Maine.
Wye River East anchorage

Tuesday July 11, 2006
Today we are heading to Annapolis. This will be another first. We’ve been to Annapolis numerous times over the years but never in our own boat. We are stoked. We want to get across the Bay before the wind comes up, which it is forecast to do later. We also want to get there before noon because all the moorings are on a first come-first served basis and we want to get the cream of the crop. Since checkout time is 11 AM, we want to be there shortly after that, so with that in mind we had the anchor up shortly after 6:45. We were back out into the Miles River, back around Tilghman Point and into Eastern Bay before 8:30. We passed Bloody Point Light about 10:20 and an hour later passed #1AH, the first marker for Annapolis Harbor. At 11 AM we entered Annapolis Harbor…right on time. The predicted wind never did fill in and we had a smooth trip all the way. It only took 15 minutes to cruise around and find the mooring we wanted and we had no sooner picked up the mooring pennant than the harbormaster’s assistant was along side in a huge Zodiac to collect the $25/ night fee. Mooring #24 is ours ‘til Thursday morning!

We had a quick bite of lunch and then hopped in the dinghy for a bit of exploring. We cruised under the bridge and up Spa Creek, admiring many of the boats moored or tied up in the various marinas. It was very hot and there was little breeze so on the way back to the boat we detoured up Ego Alley (see the last log) and tied up at the dinghy dock. We strolled around the town and then found the ice cream shop…strictly for medical purposes, mind you, Gotta’ keep the heat stroke at bay!

Fuller races his Laser, a small single-handed sailboat, at the Severn Sailing Assn. on Tuesday nights. Since we were moored directly between the SSA and the Naval Academy, we watched him rig his boat and join the parade of participants heading out to the racecourse. Jane came down a bit later with a bucket of chicken and fixin’s . We picked her and the chicken up in the dinghy, delivered the food back to MORNING STAR, and headed out to the racecourse in the dinghy to shout words of encouragement to Fuller. It didn’t help. We went back in to MORNING STAR and fixed an adult beverage while Fuller put his boat away. I ran in and picked him up and we all had dinner up top under the bimini and were serenaded by the Naval Academy’s Tuesday evening band concert. WOW!

Wednesday July 12, 2006
We are laying over today in Annapolis. When we registered with the Harbormaster he asked if we knew about the Tuesday morning Cruiser’s Breakfast at Chicken Ruth’s. We told him “No” so he filled us in. Before 8 AM we were in the dinghy, up Ego Alley to the dinghy dock and walking up Main Street looking for Chicken Ruth’s. We couldn’t find it but we did find Chick & Ruth’s Deli. Hmmmm, could it be? Sure enough, we went upstairs and there were several tables pushed together so we joined in. Chick & Ruth’s is an institution in town...been there forever. The walls are covered with autographed photos of politicians and celebrities. Cindy had breakfast between Janet Reno and Brooke Shields! The breakfast was OK and the company was interesting, but the highlight of the morning occurred at 8:30. The owner of the restaurant got on the PA system and the restaurant fell quiet. All the regulars immediately stood up, followed by the bewildered newbies, and he led the entire restaurant in the Pledge of Allegiance! He does this every morning of the world! I’m sure that the Naval Academy loves this guy. Oh yeah, his version includes “one nation, under God”, just like its supposed to.

After breakfast we stopped by the boat and then hopped back in the dinghy and went exploring, this time to Back Creek, which is around the corner at Eastport. This creek went on forever, with marinas and mooring balls everywhere. There have got to be thousands and thousands of boats! By the time we had concluded our tour it was lunchtime and really heating up. Cindy fixed us a bite and we hunted shade and a breeze until later in the afternoon when we started the generator and air conditioner. We needed to run the generator to charge the batteries anyway.
Morning Star on a mooring in front of the Naval Academy

At 5:15 we called for the water taxi to come and pick us up. We were meeting Jane and Fuller for a harbor cruise. By way of explanation, Jane, for as long as we have known her, has lusted after a Hinckley Picnic Boat. The Picnic Boat is a low-slung, sexy, distinctively styled 36’ powerboat built by, you guessed it, Hinckley Yachts. Everything Hinckley touches is golden and this boat is no exception. These things are about a half a million a copy, in round numbers. One day we were sitting on the boat and Jane called, all excited. She had been at a charity event for the hospital and bought a $15 raffle ticket. Darn if she didn’t win. The prize was a harbor tour, watching the Wednesday night sailboat races, on a Picnic Boat. The races were cancelled because of thunderstorms but by the time came for the cruise the weather had broken. The water taxi picked us up and I took great pleasure in asking him to drop us off at the Hinckley dock. I don’t know if he was impressed, but I sure was. Hinckley’s captain, a delightful young woman, was aboard with the wine and cheese and we took off. We toured Spa Creek and ogled the boats while they hopefully ogled us back. We asked for a demonstration of what the boat would do - I think the request was “can you open ‘er up??” – so we headed for the Severn River and roared up the river for quite a distance. Our captain was quite a good sport, answering every question we could throw at her and letting each of us drive for as long as we wished. I’d like to believe that she recognized our natural boating talent and innate skills but its probably just part of her job. We finished the evening with a cruise partway up Back creek. We REALLLLLY thought it would be WAY COOL to have our captain drop us off, in our Picnic Boat, at Pusser’s for dinner. She was game until the weather started to close in and she felt discretion was the better part of valor. After all, its not like we were buyers! So instead of the Picnic Boat, we went to Pusser’s by VW. Hey, what the heck, the cruise was outstanding, dinner was great, the company was too, and Fuller does have a nice VW. On top of everything else, the rain cooled things down nicely and then stopped for the night.
Fuller at the helm of the Hinckley  Picnic Boat....COOOOL!

Good friends...Happy times!
 Thursday July 13, 2006
The cadets have been doing P.T. since 6:30 AM. They are all in formation on the athletic field, which is right at the water’s edge. There is a guy on a stage, leading them in calisthenics, booming instructions and encouragement over the stadium loudspeaker system. This went on for almost two hours. I had a flashback to 1966 and the Air Force Academy, however this is obviously the kinder and gentler military. I remember words, but none of them were encouraging!

After breakfast I had to pump the rainwater out of the dinghy. It must have been six inches deep…we had quite a rain last night. I also had to clean the duck crap off the dinghy for the second morning in a row. What a way to start the day! We had to be off the mooring by 11 AM but we didn’t really need anything from town so we slipped the mooring pennant before 9 AM and were under way. We rounded Thomas Point light, at the South River, by 9:30 and were headed up the West River, on the way to Galesville, by 10:00. Galesville is another small community that we had visited years before, by car, and wanted to see from the water. I won’t say we were disappointed, but it was chock-full of boats and were wanting some piece and quiet after the hustle and bustle of Annapolis so we backtracked down the river to the Rhode River. There we found a delightful spot and anchored near Big Island by 11:30. Our closest neighbor was a sailboat and he was fully involved in his trumpet practice when we arrived. He had a good plan…anchor out in the middle of nowhere and blow your lips off! After lunch we took a dinghy trip around the area. The Smithsonian owns all the surrounding land and it is being kept in its natural state. We putted around for quite a while, Ooh’ing and Ahh’ing as we rounded every bend and turn. It is near pristine. Our neighbor, the trumpeter, left sometime while we were gone exploring.

Our next closest neighbor was a 38’ Krogen sailboat named “Inamorata”. The owners stopped by in their dinghy and we invited them back later for Happy Hour and a tour of our boat. We had a very pleasant chat with Jeff and Tessa over cocktails, sitting under the shade of the bimini top in the breeze. When Cindy asked them what they did, they replied that they were entertainers. I assumed they were musicians. Intrigued, she quizzed them further and they told us they were “mentalists”. You remember “The Amazing Kreskin”? Cindy remembered Johnny Carson’s character, “The Amazing Carnak”, but they were good sports about it. They were originally from Toronto, she actually from England and the Caribbean as a little girl. They worked together and used to do shows on cruise ships and in Vegas. Lately they do mostly corporate gigs. Apparently they are good because they have a nice sailboat. I’m only going to say nice things because they might know what I’ve written. Plus, they were really nice folks and we enjoyed our chat with them.

Friday July 14, 2006
Today we are heading back home to Solomon’s. I have a plane to catch on Sunday and we need to do a few chores on Saturday so we are underway by 8:30. Back into the Bay by 9:15 and headed south, rounding Drum Point at 2:00 and back in the slip by 2:30. Its good to be back ”home”. It’s hot and it’s nice to have the air conditioning back on.