Friday, September 22, 2006

… Messing about in boats…

“Believe me, my young friend”, said the water rat solemnly, “there is nothing…absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing…nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular…”
The Wind in the Willows
Kenneth Grahame, 1908

Friday September 22, 2006
We got back from Maine dog-tired. The thirteen-hour drive really took a lot out of us. We had to return the rental car, go to the grocery store, the hardware store, and the gas station and refill one of the propane tanks. I’ve been away for three weeks and the boat is filthy. Soooo, I guess its time to do a bit of work. We haven’t made a firm plan to haul the boat for the winter yet and time is getting away from us. We stopped off at Spring Cove Marina and talked to Allen, the yard manager, and made arrangements for hauling, winterizing and storing the boat for the winter and painting the bottom in the spring. Not our first choice but things don’t look promising for a slip down south. We have been on the waiting list at the Sheraton in New Bern but they don’t sound optimistic so we need to make some firm plans.

Sunday is the Calvert County Waterman’s Festival. They have set up tents out on the point at the Maryland Marine Research facility. The Crab Soup cook-off was wonderful! So many different tastes for crab soup and everybody got to taste each one. Yummmm! The best part of the day was the boat-docking contest. Bleachers were set up along the waterfront at the edge of the docks. The contest went like this; the contestants would back into a slip and stand by. When a pistol was fired a stopwatch was started. They had to pull out of the slip and back into a slip about 100 ft away and put two dock lines on the pilings. The fleet was divided into three groups…charter boats, old wooden workboats and commercial boats (crabbers). All these boats are single engine and are single-handed, meaning that the captain is alone. When the gun fires, the throttle is jammed ahead full and the boat shoots out of the slip. Just as suddenly, the boat is in reverse and the throttle is wide open. The boat is backing into the slip at full speed, pushing a wake from the transom and belching a cloud of black diesel smoke. The boat is stopped at the last possible moment by going ahead full throttle briefly while the captain jumps around attempting to place the dock lines on the pilings. The watch is stopped when the last line is on the last piling. Through the smoke and noise the crowd is cheering and hollering. Very exciting. In the early going, the times were about 45 seconds to accomplish all this. In the end, the two best boats had a shootout. The winning boat posted a time of an incredible 16.5 seconds. It was truly a sight to behold!


Backing in at full throttle!
Look at the stern wake!  Hit the brakes!
How's the view from up there?
Oops!  Honey, I broke the boat!
Some beautiful boats make their way through Solomon's harbor.


There are a lot of cruising boats passing through Solomon’s now. Most of these have been further north - Maine, Canada, the canals of New York – and are heading south for the winter. We are feeling weird because we aren’t joining the migration. The itch to travel has us feeling conflicted. Staying makes sense but we’d sure like to be on the move again. Some of these are folks we met in the spring and some are new friends. Some are internet acquaintances and it’s nice to finally put a face with a name. Many are anchored up for a few days for TrawlerFest, an event sponsored by Passagemaker Magazine and West Marine. It is part boat show; part rendezvous of friends and a great excuse for a party and it is located at Calvert Marina, 100 ft. from our dock. The dealers and boat brokers came in on Wednesday and the doors opened on Thursday. Miles and Ginny Curry, friends from Clearwater Yacht Club, were visiting family in Baltimore and came down to look at boats. They stayed overnight aboard Morning Star and went back to their family on Friday. We bumped into Courtney Ross who was there showing Suzanne (ex-Glacier Star). On Friday we visited a number of the boats and chatted with lots of great folks. Cruising sailor and songwriter Eileen Quinn was there and played for an hour on Friday afternoon, to the delight of many. I had a nice chat with cruising guide author Claiborne Young. He has visited CYC several times and I have corresponded with him from time to time over the years. Saturday brought even more boat visits and a concert by “Them Eastport Oyster Boys”, maybe our all-time favorites. We saw them at a Krogen Rendezvous several years ago and always enjoy listening to their CD’s.

"When I was a mermaid"
Cruiser-singer-songwritter Eileen Quinn
 
Them Eastport Oysterboys entertain at Trawler Fest

Randy & Kevin Brooks of EOB discussing the finer points of the four-string banjo.

The view of the TrawlerFest fleet from the bow of Morning Star

Eileen Quinn jams with EOB

I received an email from an acquaintance that is leaving Maine and heading to New Bern, NC. I emailed back asking how he got a slip. He replied that he was going to Bridge Point Marina. We were told that the marina was being torn down so we never considered calling them. A quick call told the story. The hotel was being torn down to make way for condo’s…sounds like Florida! But they weren’t going to do anything to the marina until the first 100 units were built. They have room for us! We are in! We are going to migrate! Whoopee!!

TrawlerFest is over and the departure show begins. Just about fifty boats were in the show and they all started leaving early on Sunday morning. It was quite a parade! After the hullabaloo of the TrawlerFest we decided we needed some peace and quiet. It was only a quick nine-mile trip from our dock, up the Patuxent River and into St. Leonard Creek. Nine miles can be a world away. We had a pleasant afternoon exploring in the dinghy to the head of the creek and doing a few boat chores. There was another boat in the anchorage, a Tartan 37 sailboat named Isle of Skye. We invited them over for a sundowner and a long chat. Pennsylvania folks. The next morning we reversed our route back to Solomon’s and our dock. Cindy has some laundry to do and I want to get Morning Star clean and shinny. The Krogen Rendezvous will be starting Thursday and we want our girl to be presentable.

Forty-five to fifty boats are expected for the Rendezvous. We will have to pack them in like cordwood but we did it last year so I’m sure that we will make it again. I’m the deputy-junior-assistant dock master. Denny Maud is the boss. We have a loose plan. There a couple of KK58’s which need to get situated first and then we will stack the rest in as they arrive. Piece of cake….right? Boats started arriving on Tuesday afternoon. We started moving boats into place first thing on Wednesday morning. By 5 PM about half of the fleet had arrived and was in position. Thursday morning the rest of the boats started showing up and we had them all docked by the time the cocktail party started. A number of us had dinner at “Vincenzo’s”, the Italian restaurant located at the marina and after-dinner drinks aboard various boats.

It’s a good thing that we have a huge tent because we woke to rain and wind on Friday morning. The temperature never reached 60°, it rained all day and the wind blew 30 knots at times. But we had a great day. There were talks by Larry Polster, from Krogen, Bob Smith from American Diesel and others. The afternoon was given over to the Krogen Crawl, which is when half the fleet opens their boat, and the other half goes “visiting”. Its fun to see what improvements and modifications people have made to their boats. Thankfully, the rain let up and the wind started to lay down. After a BYOB cocktail party in the tent there was a great potluck dinner with beautiful marinated tenderloins grilled over the charcoal grill. The food was delicious because everybody fixes their best dishes. Cindy won a prize for the best vegetable dish (eggplant).

Pam (Compass Rose) & Betsy (Molly Blossom) comparing notes.
John Loving (Compass Rose) giving everybody the bad news.
The Bad News.
Lots of rain

Denny (Joy-Den) and Bert (Sea Bear) turning the tenderloins.  Joe (Snow Goose) supervising.

Cindy(Morning Star)  & Pam (Compass Rose) in the dinner line.
Martin & Betsy (Molly Blossom) enjoying the evening.
Rain outside.  No damp spirits inside the tent.
Jack and Patsy of the KK42 "Honga" are FSU grads too.
John Hollum (Solveig) demonstrates the fly swatter dart gun.
Rainy day for the Krogen Crawl.
Crocs are popular with cruisers.

Saturday dawned cool but the wind was down and there was almost no rain. More trawler talk through the day and another session of the Krogen Crawl. Drinks and dinner at the tent again, this time catered by “Adam’s Ribs”. And then, before we knew it, it was Sunday morning and people were casting off. So were we. We had a plane to catch in Baltimore. Cindy and I are heading back to Florida one last time before we take Morning Star south.

p.s. Cindy called the Sheraton in New Bern to cancel our reservation and found out that we have moved up to the top of the wait list and they now have a slip for us. We cancelled at Bridge Point because we feel that the Sheraton is a better location. Its walking distance to town and New Bern was one of our favorite stops last spring.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Maine Event

Even busy travelers need a vacation! When I returned to Baltimore on September 15, Cindy picked me up at BWI and instead of going south back to Solomon’s we headed north toward Philadelphia. Actually, we were going to Sister Jane and Sam’s house near Allentown. After a good dinner and some catching up, it was early to bed. Four AM came early on Saturday but the cars were loaded and we were off. We’re going to MacFarland Cove at South Bristol, Maine! Jane and Sam bought a summer cottage this year and we have been dying to get up there to see it. It was an easy drive of about 8 hours. We had to take two cars because Jane & Sam were heading back on Monday morning while Cindy and I were staying on for a few days. Before they left we took the opportunity to work on a couple of small cottage projects (moving stuff in, fixing the screen door) as well as sampling the wares at the Pemaquid lobster pound, Shaws Wharf, Round Top Ice Cream Shop and Schooner’s Landing, in Damariscotta.

Sundowners on the deck.  Cheers!
Tuesday found us on the road again, this time heading to Camden. It’s another place we have visited before but it is such a beautiful spot and the boat watching is simply great. After a wonderful lunch in Camden at Cappy’s Chowder House, we were back on the road, stopping briefly in Rockland to talk to the harbormaster about the availability of moorings. Hmmm, maybe next year. It was cool at night and we were grateful that we had test-fired the potbelly wood stove before Jane and Sam left. It is amazing how quickly that thing takes the chill off the little cabin. Can we find a spot for one on Morning Star?
Red's Eats in Wiscassett.

On Wednesday we went to Wiscasset for lunch at Red’s Eats, a local institution. Red’s is not much more than a roadside stand, but they have made a big name for themselves selling, among other things, lobster rolls. When we drove by two years ago, people were lined up around the corner and down the block…in the rain! That was all the recommendation we needed. In the end, we preferred the lobstah rolls at Schooners, in Damariscotta, where we had lunch again on Monday after our hosts left. On our way back to the cottage we took a side trip to visit Boothbay Harbor, one of the many scenic Maine harbors. We’ve been there before but it is such a delightful place that it was worth a return trip. We were surprised to find the ship The HMS Bounty hauled out of the water, undergoing a refit. We have a passing familiarity with the Bounty since it frequently calls St. Petersburg home. The ship was built as a replica of Captain Bligh’s famous ship for the Marlon Brando movie, The Mutiny on the Bounty. (Surely you remember Captain Bligh, Fletcher Christian, Tahiti and Pitcairn Island) More recently, it played the part of Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship in the last two Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Jane and Sam’s neighbors at the end of the road, the Clarks, invited us for cocktails to meet friends of theirs, Jim & Sue Chambers, who are also boaters. The Clarks were wonderful hosts and we had a great time getting to know both couples. Jim and Sue were boaters indeed, with several Trans-Atlantic crossings and a circumnavigation under sail under their belts. As they say, these folks have wrung a lot of salt water out of their socks! Jim gave us instructions to say high to his old pal, Milt Baker, on his Nordhavn 47 Bluewater. Milt and Bluewater would be in Solomon’s next week for TrawlerFest. I know Milt from the Internet, as we are both participants on a trawler-related site. It’s a small world, and I made good on my promise a week later.

Thursday morning we were under way by 4:30 AM. We had a 13-hour drive back to the Bay and wanted to get it over with. Our route took us around Boston by quite a distance (but we got caught in traffic anyway), through Hartford (niece Sarah was out of town…we tried to call), through the traffic of New York City, past the industrial bustle of Camden, New Jersey (not nearly as pretty as the Camden of two days ago), down the New Jersey Turnpike (tolls!!), briefly passing through a corner of Delaware and back into Maryland. Thirty minutes after we “closed the loop”, passing BWI, we got stuck in a whopper of a traffic jam outside of Annapolis. Patience prevailed and we got our numb butts back on Morning Star about 6 PM. Great week!