Good morning Baltimore

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While in Rock Hall, Maryland, we encountered a local lady who saw us lugging groceries back to the boat.  She offered us a ride in her Gem car, which—wait for it—was named Pearl.  That’s kind of like encountering the ghost of Hank Williams at crossroads in Alabama or some such thing.  Crazy.

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A heron next to us watched us leave Rock Hall Landing at 8:30 for the short hop across the Bay to Baltimore.   img_3516

It’s been a steel-gray couple of days since we left St. Michaels.  The color sky that reminds us wistful old salts of our youthful winters spent cod fishing in the Bering Sea.  Oh wait, that was a TV show, not us.  Mostly us old salts had to listen to the young salts wistfully recall two days earlier when they could lay in the sun instead of snoozing while wrapped up like mummies.  When the cruise isn’t exciting enough, however, just make lemonade.  Which in our case meant busting out the drone for the first time while underway.  A few things to note:

  • Return to Home doesn’t work.  Ok we knew that one.
  • The distance shown on the controller is distance from the launch GPS coordinates, not the controller’s current location.  That was an unexpected surprise.
  • The path map also is useless.  Can’t follow it back to the boat if the boat moves a mile or two.
  • The boat engine noise drowns out the drone motor noise.  So you can’t use the sound to help locate it.
  • Against steel-gray it’s impossible to tell what direction a black dot is moving, assuming you even can find said black dot.
  • Doug’s eyesight is horrible.

Because of all that, when the low battery beep starts—and you have lost sight of the drone from the boat and the boat from the drone—massive panic ensues.  All hands on deck.  Mayday.  $1,000 overboard.  Fortunately young eyes and a solid piece of luck allowed a deck landing just as the battery died.  Dana says we never can do that again.  We’ll see.

 

We also encountered our first Traffic Separation Scheme crossing the Bay into Baltimore.  Fortunately there wasn’t much commercial traffic as the hazy skyline came into focus.

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003a0446We visited Fort McHenry a couple of years ago.  There was a huge exhibit of iconic moments involving the American flag.  One of us pointed out to the guides that in fact the “Miracle on Ice” photo of Jim Craig wrapped in the flag was taken after the U.S. beat the commies in a semifinal game, not the gold medal game.  They didn’t seem to care that their exhibit was flawed.  We aren’t gong back.

The saddest part of our trip so far is losing Mallory, who took a train back to her summer job in Washington.  She was with us the first 227.8 nm of our adventure.  Having both girls with us reinforced how much we miss them when they are gone.

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The weather appears to be a problem so we may be stuck in Baltimore longer than ideal, but at least Shannon is still with us.

St. Michaels weekend

 

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Just outside our slip in the St. Michaels harbor, the anchorage filled up over the Memorial weekend.  An idyllic field of sailboats when the sun is sinking towards the horizon almost demands to be preserved in art.  Perhaps a watercolor painting.  Or poetry.  Since we lack paint, an easel, brushes, and skill, we were inspired to capture the mood in a poem:

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The guys at the marina were great.  Helpful dock hands showed us a better way to affix lines.  (There are no ropes on a boat.)  The service at the restaurant was a bit slow, but we weren’t in a hurry.  At least some of the time.

Our first day we walked to a funky taco shop and then took the boys through the Maryland grass.  Benny picked up a tick.  The concept of ticks has terrified our entire family ever since we spent time in Maine last summer, which is why Mallory demanded public credit for removing it.  Ticks quite possibly are worse than crab pots.  We wonder if Benny is worth it.

The boys at least seemed happy to have shore leave on a regular basis for a few days.  They have been troopers on the boat though.  At our former house they had a small door of their own and an acre-sized bathroom available around the clock.  So far no accidents despite several long cruising days.

We took the no-fly restriction in the harbor as more of a suggestion than a rule and buzzed the drone around for a few minutes.  Mallory and Shannon waved from the Misty Pearl but thankfully the authorities were unable to connect the dots.

Several cruisers introduced themselves during our stay, including Walt and Midge Johnson, who started the Loop last July and are in the home stretch aboard Rambunctious.  They are traveling about three times faster on their way home to Lake Erie so we likely won’t meet up again unless they have a serious problem.  Tom Rogers stopped by on a Hobie i11, which we might buy ourselves for our birthdays.  Tom and his wife Connie are aboard a 30 ft. cat named rPAD.

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We also took advantage of the municipal pump out dude.  We wish we could pay him just to follow along behind us.

img_3494 A couple of years ago we spent a quiet and peaceful Thanksgiving in St. Michaels.  Memorial Day, however, is the unofficial start of boating season on Chesapeake Bay, which meant everything was hopping this time.  Oddly there almost was a Coronado-ish vibe.  Great restaurants, a farmer’s market where we bought the veggies Shannon used in her delicious pasta sauce and the bread to go with it, and long bike rides.  Local artists displayed their work on light pole banners throughout town.  There is a bizarre number of graveyards in town.  Those weren’t hopping.

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img_3513Johnny Mautz may or may not be a qualified candidate, but if printing a zillion signs and planting one in every nook and cranny is effective he will win in a landslide.

We took an Uber trip to nearby Easton for pedicures (for those of us not named Doug) and the obligatory West Marine visit (by those of us named Doug.)  As the Best Songwriter in History observed, “Everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on.”  We learned from the driver that for the good folks of St. Michaels, the Eastonians play that role.  But we picked up varnish and some other essentials—like pedicures—so Easton was okay for us.

Sunday night a good thunderstorm rolled through, causing much scrambling along the dock as people re-tied their lines.  We felt pretty confident and just hunkered down to play cards and listen to the rain.  For once we didn’t mind it, although the downpour that trapped us on the Monday morning dog walk was unexpectedly chilly.

Memorial Day saw our neighbors steam out and back towards their home marinas.   Brownie’s sister had school on Tuesday.  The two kids on our starboard side fished while listening to a finals study guide before departing.  Dinner with the girls at Limoncello was fantastic.

7266FF3E-EB9B-4BE1-8718-4EF79B7B28E6With most boats gone, we had a clear path out Tuesday morning and planned to shoot through the Kent Narrows.  However, the timing of things would have put us there at low tide.  The shoal warning and current direction were enough to scare us into taking an additional two hours to go around the south tip of Kent Island and then back north to Rock Hall.  Rock Hall claims to be “Pearl of the Chesapeake” so no chance Misty Pearl could pass it up.

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Along the the way birds tried to block our ability to read the channel markers, but we were able to find our way to Rock Hall Landing around 6 hours and 37 nm after leaving St. Michaels.

Easy day

Not much to report today.  Nice cruise up to Harbour Marina in St. Michaels, Maryland.  47 nm in 7 hours.  We got some good photos of big ships.  The girls jumped off the boat again.  This time the video worked.

 

The drone is charging up so maybe we can fly while we are parked here until Tuesday.

Hopefully everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend.

Is the Potomac safe for swimming?

img_3473We were up and gone by 6:45 this morning.  The boys had their morning walk and then promptly assumed their positions in the pilothouse and returned to sleep.  The girls didn’t bother getting up until 10:30.  After they baked in the sun for a bit they jumped in the river.   Our video should be inserted here but apparently it wasn’t shot in the proper format.  Shannon calls it a rookie mistake.  Either way they actually did jump into the river.

It was another beautiful day for cruising.  Until we reached the mouth of the Potomac.   Not only did we hit three-foot breaking rollers, but the crabbers had been busy setting pots like it was a mine field.

img_3479Here is a crab pot float.  We hate crab pots.   Crab pots suck.   Screw the dude who planted this one.

The Chesapeake roiled for about two hours but finally smoothed out, and at the Patuxent River the Navy installation trumped the crabbers.

The best thing about the Chesapeake Bay is ship-spotting.

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We were all into the container ships until the Evergreen Legend under a Singapore flag and with containers stacked to the heavens yelled at us via VHF because he wanted to pass us in the deep channel.  Turned out it was another white trawler traveling north at 7 knots who was the problem, however, and we were three miles to the big guy’s port.  So all was well, at least for us.  Maybe he ran over the trawler blocking his path.

We steamed into Spring Cove Marina at Solomons Island, Maryland, 58 nm and 8 1/2 hours later.  That’s roughly like leaving your house in Phoenix  and spending the entire day driving to Casa Grande.  Except on water.

It’s finally happening

We awoke early this morning to an absolutely perfect day.  No wind.  Helpful tide.  Our new friend Isaiah (aka Big Daddy) saw us off at 6:33 as we headed off to Colonial Beach.  There is a good argument for the notion that our Loop actually started weeks ago in Deltaville.  After all, we will pass Deltaville next spring well before we get back to Washington.  We sort of used this theory to claim “In Progress” status at the Rendevous.  In Looper parlance one completes America’s Great Loop by “crossing the wake” left behind at the start.  We will cross our wake when we return to D.C. next spring.  (This is subject to modification, of course.  If we drown in Deltaville next year, the girls technically can claim that we finished.)

The girls got up just long enough to see us pull away and the boys got up just long enough for a shore visit, then they all slept half the way to Colonial Beach.  They missed the best cruising we have done.  The debris slowly dispersed as we moved south.  The water almost was skiable.  With the early ebb tide we made nearly 10 knots for the first couple of hours.  The fog rolled in and out on little cat feet but caused no concern even though our grasp of the COLREGS sections on lights, sounds, and day shapes for fog was even foggier.

Since we had passed these shores going the other direction, there wasn’t much excitement.  We did get solid help from the two Dahlgren Range Boats that essentially blocked for us as we passed through the active target range.  Shout out to them.

We docked at Colonial Beach at 2:44.  62.5 nm at 7.6 knots average.  We’ll take that the entire time.

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