The Route South

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Stories We Could Tell

Talkin’ to myself again, wonderin’ if this travelin’ is good.
If there’s else a doin’, we’d be doin’ if we could.
But, oh the stories we could tell.
If it all blows up and goes to hell.
I wish that we could sit upon a bed in some motel
and listen to the stories we could tell.
"The Stories We Could Tell"
Jimmy Buffett

It was a busy two weeks. The time flew by for Cindy and me. I had plenty of work to occupy my time in Clearwater and Cindy had plenty on her plate in Solomon’s Island. We made arrangements to have our generator serviced at Washburn’s yard. It’s just the usual preventative stuff - oil and filter change, fuel filter and cooling system sacrificial zincs - stuff that I usually do. By prior arrangement Cindy took the boat to the yard with one of the yard guys as her crew. Then I got the call at my office.

Cindy – I can’t start the generator!
Randy – Whadda’ you mean? Just hold the pre-heat for 15 seconds and then push the start button.
Cindy – We tried that. It started briefly but I think I didn’t hold the pre-heat long enough. Now it won’t do anything.
Randy – OK, that’s easy! Open the hatch to the generator and push in the small white reset button.
Cindy – Chip already tried that.
Randy – Who?
Cindy – Chip…one of the yard guys. Actually, I think he’s the mechanic. He wants to talk to you.
Chip – Randy, we think we found the problem. There is a fuse on the starter and it blew. I replaced it and it blew again. So Eric and I got my meter and started checking some things. We think you have a bad glow plug. It really should be replaced. We can order it and have it here in a day or two.
Randy – (to self) Who’s Eric? I’ve started that darn generator a jillion times. Don’t you guys know what you are doing?
Randy - (to Chip) Look Chip, those things can’t cost more than $10 or $15 so lets replace all three of them. Any other questions or problems?
Cindy – The small outboard isn’t working. I talked to Matt and he said to talk to Chris Washburn. Chris can put his mechanic on it this week. It’s probably just a gummed up carb.
Randy – Shesh! Its only money!

Cindy also had some varnish work to do. We stripped part of the cap rail in the cockpit before I left. She finished scraping it down to bare wood and put four coats of Cetol (a varnish-like coating made for teak). But lest you think it was all work and no play, she took the weekend off and drove a rental car up to Pennsylvania to visit Jane and Sam. Plus, the northerly migration of cruising boats has begun and every afternoon new boats arrive. Many are acquaintenances so there seems to be an endless stream of invitations for cocktails or dinner, or both. Oh yeah, there is that pesky generator to finish. Before she knew it, Friday had come and it was time to rent another car, this time to drive to BWI airport and pick me up.

We spent Saturday and Sunday doing small chores. We planned to leave on Monday but the wind was up and on the nose so we decided to wait one more day for a favorable forecast. Plus, Washburn’s still doesn’t have the outboard running right!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Up and at ‘em early. We have to take on fuel and want to be at the fuel dock when they open at 8 AM. First we have breakfast, then put the bikes aboard, roll up the water hose, stow it and the electric cord, and bring the dock lines and fenders aboard. The engine is running by 7:45 AM and by 8:30 we have taken on 150 gallons of diesel (@ $2.35/ gal) and are under way. Once again we are saying goodbye to Solomon’s, this time until sometime in the fall. Drum Point, Cove Point and eventually Thomas Point Light all pass by to port as we make our way north past these familiar waypoints. We won’t see them for a while since we are heading further north this year…to places new to us.

As we approach the Severn River and Annapolis, 250 or 300 cheering boats are gathered! It’s great that they all turned out to welcome us on a weekday and we are truly humbled to know that they have missed us so much. Suddenly, while we weave our way through the anchored fleet, six blue and gold streaks zoom by at masthead level, not quite attached to the ear-shattering roar that follows. Our bubble is burst! It’s Commissioning Week at the Naval Academy and the Blue Angels are practicing today! They will do their “demonstration” on Wednesday and then a fly-over at the stadium during graduation on Friday. The gathered crowd isn’t a welcoming committee…at least not for us!
The Blue Angels practice

After a short wait for the bridge at Spa Creek, we proceed to the mooring field and pick up mooring ball #64 for a few days.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
No travel for a few days. The Blue Angel’s air show is today and we are going out to the Annapolis Capital Yacht Club to watch it aboard Destiny, CYC member-friends John and Shirley Ardolino’s new-to-them Bristol 47.7 sailboat. Their slip is right on the edge of the river and we have a front row seat. We met John’s brother, Gus, who lives in Baltimore. Fellow CYC’ers, Connie and Dick Boblenz stopped in for the day as they had been traveling up and down the coast by car. We all work on CYC’s Race Committee and if a regatta had broken out, we could have run the darn thing! One of the Blue Angels pilots had a fatal crash a few weeks earlier in Beaufort, SC and I believe this was their first show since that tragedy. But the way they fly, you couldn’t tell it. They are aggressive and fly tight. It was a great show.
 "Fat Albert" warms up the crowd with a C-130!
All kinds of craft are out for the airshow
Tight formation
No mirrors.  That's a tight formation!
I told you they were close!

John and Pam from Compass Rose (KK42) stopped by Morning Star in their dinghy after the air show and we spent a few minutes catching up with them. We saw them last in Norfolk. Then, after dinner, while dinghying in for ice cream; we were hailed by Bert and Marlene Jones of Sea Bear (KK 54) so we stopped for a few minutes. We saw Bert and Marlene at Roland Martin’s fish camp in Clewiston, FL a year ago and again at the Krogen Rendezvous last fall. It was a busy day!

Friday May 25, 2007
Chip and Susan arrived last night. John and Shirley were kind enough to loan us their car so we were able to run in to pick them up at BWI rather than subject them to the shuttle bus ride. By the time we were back aboard Morning Star, we had a late, light dinner and went straight to bed. Everybody was up fairly early so we dinghied in to town, via Ego Alley so they could see the sights. Breakfast at Chick and Ruth’s included an impromptu tableside magic show by Ted, the owner, before the Pledge of Allegiance. After doing a bit of wandering we got back to the boat in time to crank up the engine and, by hustling, were able to make the 9:30 AM bridge opening at the Spa Creek Bridge. We saw the Blue Angels forming up over the Bay for their graduation fly-by. After crossing the Bay we passed through Knapp’s Narrows into the Choptank River, and then Broad Creek on our way to San Domingo Creek and the “back door” to St. Michaels. Shortly before 2:30 PM, we anchored with two other Krogens, Solveig (KK58) and Lowe Key (KK42). There is a town dock at the head of the creek and we took advantage of it, tying the dinghy off while we walked the three tree-shaded blocks through a beautiful, old residential section to the tourist town that St. Michaels has become. After seeing all we wanted of the town, we stopped in at the Crab Claw, St. Michaels “famous” restaurant and had a cool drink and a couple of appetizers before heading back to the boat. Going to the Crab Claw in St. Michaels is like going to Pappas’ in Tarpon Springs…tourists have to and locals don’t. A steak dinner aboard the boat followed toddies and a quiet night followed that.

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Unlike yesterday, we had a lazy morning today. Chip and Susan took the dinghy for a bit of exploring and we had a light breakfast before starting the engine and pulling the anchor up. Back out Broad Creek, reversing yesterday’s track to the Choptank River. Today, we took a left and turned east and before 10:30 we were in the Tred Avon River. After a short side trip into Plaindealing Creek, one of our favorite places to anchor, we crossed back over the river and by 11:30 were tied alongside at Mears Yacht Haven in the delightful town of Oxford. We spent the afternoon biking around the town, sightseeing and stopping to buy new sparkplugs for the 15 HP at Hinckley’s and a few items at the local grocery. Jane & Fuller arrived a bit after 6 PM…just in time for toddies and a harbor cruise in the dinghy. We stopped at Schooner Landing for dinner and then ice cream at the Scotsman’s. Yummy!

Sunday, May 27, 2007
It was another easy morning aboard Morning Star. We watched fishing shows on ESPN2 during breakfast, filled the water tanks and rinsed the top deck off before putting the hose away and cranking up the engine. We were away from the dock at 9:30, a very late start by our standards! We simply reversed our earlier route, passing from the Choptank River into the Bay via Knapp’s Narrows and returning to Annapolis and picking up mooring #32 in the outer mooring field, right in the middle of all the action. A look at the log shows that we have now traveled over 2500 nautical miles since leaving Clearwater!

Chip and Susan took the opportunity to wander around town a bit. It is really crowded because it’s Memorial Day weekend. We are celebrating Chip’s birthday and we went to Middleton’s Tavern for dinner. Usually we enjoy eating there but tonight was disappointing. Cindy and my steaks were cold and the service was slow. I know, I know…what do you expect on a holiday weekend.

Monday, May 28, 2007
Chip and Susan leave this afternoon. Their trip was so short. We all went ashore and walked through the grounds of the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, the Chapel and John Paul Jones’ crypt are closed because it is a National Holiday. Nevertheless, it’s a mighty impressive place. Chip and Susan’s trip seemed like it was over before it started! Back into John and Shirley’s car, we dropped them off at 12:30, stopped for lunch at Five Guys and then headed back to the boat for a nap.
Chip & Susan at the Naval Academy
Cadets showing their boat handling skill on a YP (Yard Patrol) boat
Memorial Day ceremony in Annapolis

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
It’s a windy morning, 20 knots out of the north at 8AM and cool – low 70’s. Since the forecast is for the wind to drop later we didn’t start the engine until 10:30 AM. We dropped the mooring and headed out into the Bay, turning north into a diminishing wind, headed toward new (to us) territory. For the first time ever, we passed under the Bay Bridge and into the northern part of the Chesapeake. Our speed dropped to 4.3 knots due to the strong current. We entered the beautiful Magothy River and shortly before 1 PM anchored behind Dobbins Island, in 10 ft of water. The wind has dropped to 5-7 knots and switched to the East.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Last night was a wonderful night in a delightful anchorage. After breakfast we ran the generator for about an hour while I caught up on some emails. The dinghy is in need of some TLC so we put the big motor aboard Morning Star and swapped it for the little 2.5 HP. After gathering cleaning supplies we took the dinghy into the beach where we removed the motor, emptied and flipped the boat over for a good scrubbing. Since we will soon be in Baltimore and it will be stowed on the davits for many weeks, this is too good an opportunity to let pass. We scrubbed the little boat to within an inch of its life and it sparkles. It’s amazing what a good application of course sand, Soft-Scrub with bleach, Bar-Keepers Friend and a half hour of elbow grease will do!

The engine was cranked up and the anchor was back aboard by 11:30 AM. We were out of the Magothy River before noon and had lunch while under way, passing Swan Point Bar and arriving in Rock Hall by 1:30PM. We anchored in Swan Creek and dinghied ashore for a look around. The owner of a B&B was standing on his dock and invited us to tie the dinghy and use a couple of the bikes he keeps for his guests. Turns out that there isn’t much in Rock Hall and most of what was there was closed. The B&B owner said that the townsfolk made all the money they needed for a while over the holiday weekend! Joe and Trina of Snow Goose (KK42) keep their boat in Rock Hall in the summers. They too were anchored in the creek, trying to get some work done. They stopped by for a drink at the end of the day.

Thursday, May 31, 2007
The anchor was aboard before 9:30 AM and we were off to Baltimore! The 8-10 knot breeze kept the temperature quite pleasant. We entered Brewerton Channel, one of the channels the big ships use. Baltimore, we learned, is the third largest port on the east coast, behind only NY and Norfolk. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before a car carrier passed us. That thing was HUGE!! They typically carry 5,000 or 6,000 automobiles.
Car carriers are HUGE! On the way into Baltimore. 
That's the bow...the pointy end.

That's the stern with the loading ramp folded up.

Car carrier unloading
At noon we passed beneath the Francis Scott Key Bridge. We couldn’t bring ourselves to put the boat away just yet so we took a tour through the Inner Harbor.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

The National Aquarium, the lightship "Chesapeake" and the submarine "Torsk"
Baltimore’s downtown redevelopment is impressive, to say the least. Shortly after 1 PM the dock master gave us directions into the marina and we put Morning Star into slip #F-23, her home for the next three weeks.

The next several days were spent getting the boat ready for our departure. Button everything up tight, put chafing gear on the dock lines, fill the water tanks, put the bikes away, and lock up the outboard motors. We had an appointment with the refrigerator guy who confirmed what we thought we already new…the fridge is a goner. The repair cost would be 2/3 the cost of a new unit with a three year warranty. We made an appointment to meet him back here on the 19th with a new refrigerator.

The commercial development across Boston Street, named The Can Company after its warehouses, has what they term First Friday’s. All summer, on the first Friday of the month they sponsor an outdoor “festival” with live music. Several of the restaurants that are housed in the old warehouses serve food and beverages on the sidewalks. Cindy & I wandered across the street when we heard the music and wound up having an enjoyable time eating and drinking, listening to the music and watching the people. The music this night was Zydeco (a form of Cajun music) by the Crawdaddies, but it varies every month. The breeze was strong and cool and the evening was quite pleasant.

Saturday we played tourist. A short ride on the water taxi and we visited Fort McHenry. In case your high school history is a bit dim, Baltimore is where Francis Scott Key, on September 14, 1814, penned what is now our National Anthem. The visit to that small fort was mighty interesting and I’ll never hear the Star Spangled Banner quite the same again. By the way, did you know that there were 15 stars and 15 stripes on the flag back then? It wasn’t until sometime later that they decided that everyone couldn’t have their own star AND a stripe too or the flag would be too big! Also, it wasn’t until 1931 that Congress adopted it as the National Anthem. I’m guessing that the National Football League couldn’t be formed until they had a song to sing at the beginning of the game!
Old Glory flies over Ft. McHenry.
Count the stars and stripes!
Drum & Fife
The Pride of Baltimorein the Inner Harbor

Sunday brought the rain showers that were predicted. It also brought our taxi to the airport. And so, with our duffle bags wrapped in plastic garbage bags, we left Morning Star to wait patiently for our return.