A Travellerspoint blog

Oxford, MD

rain 59 °F

We got underway from Solomons at about 0730 on Friday, having watched a steady stream of private and charter fishing boats leave before us. Without exaggeration, each boat carried more than a dozen rod and reel combinations, some having at least 20, maybe more. Each rod was festooned with at least one yellow wiggly looking thing, that being followed by a bright balloon of yellow and gold streamers that could have served as pom-poms for most adolescent cheerleaders. It created a very festive atmosphere, it not being obvious whether the boats were going fishing or were in a procession for a "Blessing of the Fleet." We never saw a priest or any holy water so we guessed that they were fishing.

As we cleared into the Bay an hour later that became obvious. The boats were thick on the water, dancing water bugs gliding about in a curious and complex pavane. We were under sail, headed north, right into the floating mass. It's a close call as to who may have had the right of way. We were under sail, and that usually trumps in most circumstances. However, some of the larger boats had deployed floating paravanes to stream fishing lines to the side. There was a case to be made for those boats having limited maneuvering, causing us to yield to them. Most boats, however, were being powered by a toxic mix of diesel, beer and testosterone, men on the hunt, and they really didn't much give a damn about yielding anything to any stinkin' sailboat.

In the middle of the boat cluster, a near disaster struck. We avoided the problem but the crew did not respond well, at all. We finally cleared the bulk of boats and then headed up the Choptank River, into the wind and waves, a deadly dull, tedious and tiring slog. We finally hit the Tred Avon River and after a few miles on that water arrived at the marina.

Over the weekend it was time for some work attention to be directed to the boat, it being time for the 100 hour cycle of boat, not engine, maintenance. On Saturday I decided to start with the last item on the list. The sacrificial zinc was about 4 months old and I was not sure that we needed a new one but I was sure that I needed to look at the old one. Neither the air nor the water was very warm that day, so we hauled out the wet suit. Getting into one of those things is about like dressing up in a straight jacket except the arms are a little shorter. Being a skinny, scrawny guy, I have a natural flotation index of about: zero. It is amazing how much buoyancy the suit adds in the water. I cannot get below the boat wearing the wet suit without the weight belt, so that went on too, the only time that Carol and I are nearly the same in weight. Fins, mask and snorkel completed the ensemble. It was a good thing that I decided to check; the zinc had maybe one more week before it completely disintegrated and fell off the shaft. The real problem was visibility. Even with my mask the propeller's radius away, 8-in., I could not see the 3/16-in. hex head bolt. The water was some revolting combination of colors in the triangle of yellow, green and brown. Regardless, using the brail method of feeling about, the old one came off and the new one went on and we're good for another few months. On Sunday we did the rest of the list, finding no other issues needing attention.

Oxford is a stunningly pretty little town. The marina at which we stayed is at the tip of the strand, the strand literally being a thin strip of land surrounded by water. The houses facing the street that ran along the strand all have an unimpeded view of the Tred Avon River, there being no houses on the other side of the street. Most of the houses backed up against marinas and boatyards.


The main street was delightful. There were no Gilded Age mansions to be seen. All of the houses were old, clapboards predominating with some painted cedar shakes, probably spanning about 25 years on either side of a century. They may have started as rather modest two story single family homes on typical city lots: not very wide, but pretty deep. Over time most seem to have morphed into small housing complexes. By looking at roof lines it seems that every house had a least one addition built onto the rear of the house, most looked like two. All the trees were hardwoods save for an occasion renegade pine. What struck me was that the main street could have as easily been in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts or upstate New York.

This inn, the Robert Morris Inn, is at the intersection of the two main streets and Carol says that some small part of it dates to the 1780's; the third floor is not one of those parts.


The town dates to 1683 and water has always been a part of its history. With all the boatyards and marinas there is also a boat builder/ marine architect, a purveyor of high end wooden boats, a rare thing today. And, maybe a trend starting here, another clock.

Posted by sailziveli 15:12 Archived in USA

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