A Travellerspoint blog

Annapolis, MD

overcast 77 °F

Carol needed a confidence builder so, she got to be Captain for a Day, the title of Queen for a Day being already taken. The plan, get us from the dock in Oxford, MD to the dock in Annapolis, MD, a trip of some 35 nm.

After narrowly avoiding two disasters in the first three minutes she got us out the channel and into the Tred Avon River, heading for the Choptank River. All was relatively uneventful. The sun was supposed to make a brief appearance in the morning. The closest it came was to make the slate gray skies fade to dove gray, but only for a nanosecond; if you blinked, you missed it. Mostly it was overcast, a little rain, very cool, never breaking 60o, a chilly, damp trip.


There was a fair amount of commercial boat traffic, i.e. really big things, going up and down the Bay, but we were never really very close to their lines of travel. Even in the deepest water, well over 40-ft. we saw crab pots, not so many, and not so dense. All the deep water crab pots seem to have a small flag on the buoy "mast." I don't know whether this is for the crabbers to be able to locate their traps or a requirement that allows other boaters to be better able to see the traps in more navigable waters. Regardless, these ubiquitous boats, running a little over 20-ft., are the proximate cause of all the trouble. There must be hundreds of these things in the Bay, all white, all genetic clones of a single design decades old.

Just south of Annapolis, on the western side of the Bay, is the Thomas Point Shoal lighthouse, a very old original. It was rebuilt in 1877, an earlier version succumbing to ice; it was manned by light keepers until 1986, over a century, then automated. It is the oldest of its kind still standing in U.S. waters. Pretty cool, I think.


It took just about seven hours to make the passage, fighting the tide the whole trip. The mouth of the Severn River, which the cruising guides say can be nasty, was calm, benign, uneventful. Carol, after circling the harbor several times finally found the marina and tried to enter the slip. This was not going to work so I took over and got the boat into the slip as directed by the marina attendant. Except, the slip was too narrow, so we were directed to another slip, wider, but it required a port side tie and we were rigged for the starboard side. Clear, direct words were exchanged with the attendant who decided at that point to let us go wherever we wanted, a wise choice on his part. So after slip 13 and slip 14, slip 15 proved, mostly, to our liking. We've stayed at many marinas and the clear standard for excellence is still the guys at the city marina in St. Augustine, FL. They are the only ones from whom I have ever asked and heeded advice.

Carol's assessment of her captaincy for the day was, on a pass/fail basis, that she passed; my assessment of her assessment was that I would agree with her. For a guy like me, who has lived most of his adult life at the pointy end of several very sharp sticks, it's hard to understand the feeling of accomplishment and confidence that this "rite of passage" gave Carol.

This was our third trip to Annapolis: once to visit Ron & Shirley, once for a boat show, and this trip. After we had the boat buttoned up and secure, it dawned on Carol that we are moored in the middle of the boat show, at least where it was that particular year. Annapolis the the sailing center of the Eastern US, probably the whole country. I don't know how that came to be, it just is. A trip to Annapolis on a sailboat has some of the metaphysical overtones of a trip to Jerusalem, but without the sectarian bloodshed: THIS IS THE PLACE! When looking at the resident sailboats here it seems that folks here have a different relationship with their sailing their boats than do folks like us who cruise. There are few davits and dinghies; no solar panels or wind generators; no canvas surrounds, many boats with no cockpit canvas at all ....sailing is a wind in the face experience; whisker poles abound; jerry cans .... fuggedaboutit, most boats displaying their sleek, graceful shapes unencumbered by cruising paraphernalia. Even the most modest boats look anxious to harness the wind and to challenge the water.

As always, just when you're having fun .... real life intervenes. Carol had been concerned about some spots on her skin, so part of the reason for being in Annapolis is so that she could see a dermatologist and get some biopsies done. Not overly concerning at this point. We've been talking to friends back home and there are some health problems that are almost dire and some that are difficult in their consequences. We plan on visiting some friends that lived in Chicago and moved here to retire. Found out on Friday that she and I share some health issues, hers being less than a week old, so we compared notes over the phone.

The week, to date, has been quiet. A rainy Tuesday, a good day for reading on the boat, which we did, was followed by clear weather. Carol needed a way to get to the doctor's so we rented a car and spent a lot of time running boat errands getting to two different West Marine stores on several occasions and a couple of trips to Fawcett's the local guy here in Annapolis. The experience of no visibility the morning we left Colonial Beach made an impression. We have a USCG fog horn using compressed air and looking sort of like a can of Cheez Whiz for manhole covers; it will get us past any inspection but the bigger question was, "What happens if we really get socked in up north?" Da' Cheez Whiz wouldn't cut it. So, we cobbled together the parts and pieces to make an electric horn from the several visits to the several stores. The good news: I got it together, and it works. The bad news: rather than having a deep, penetrating, resonant basso profundo sound, it rather resembles the honk of a whining, petulant escapee horn from a Yugo automobile. Better than nothing. ..... mostly.

We were on the ICW for 4 days, Oriental to Norfolk. There must be something in the water, maybe decayed plant matter, that creates an ugly, marigold color patina on the hull. Usually, this is just at the water line; because it had been windy and wavy our entire hull was mottled in different degrees from top to bottom, stem to stern. Most acids seem to cut the crud, including citric acid, but this is slow. We bought some oxylic acid solution that was pretty aggressive, but required eye cover and something to prevent inhaling the aerosol. Acid for the water stains, Soft Scrub for everything else, up one side and then the other; it was like spit shining a school bus. But, work done, it looks a lot better.

Annapolis is a pretty neat place. It seems unusual to me to see buildings from 1790, 1890 and 1990 all in such close proximity. The old stuff is what fascinates me. The town, like many others, has a downloadable app which includes a walking tour. If you scribe a 1/4-mi. radius from the statehouse dome, that pretty much covers the tour; not a lot of walking involved. To me the sense of the age of the place comes from the side streets more than the tour locations. We also walked through the USNA, hard on the banks of the Severn River. It was a wonderful collage of old buildings with new, much more graceful than the U of F. There is a huge "chapel" at the Academy, much larger than most churches. There was a service of some sort today so we did not get to go inside. From the outside it looked amazing, the stained glass windows huge. The two coolest residences in town are both temporary: the Governor's mansion and the USNA Superintendent's house.



One side street which we traveled had buildings with these great doors.

Friday was the second day of summer, the first being about a month ago in Norfolk. The sliver of water in which we are moored has the name of Ego Alley. The reason for this was not apparent until about 4pm when the alley came alive people at the clubs and boats on the water. Change the Beneteaus and Sea-Rays to Fords and Chevys and it could have been Main Street in Modesto, CA and we were watching American Graffiti. Boats, big boats, power and sail, entered the alley, traversed the length of it and the reversed to exit, some doing it again, seeing and being seen ... Ego Alley. The din from the people at the clubs on the other side of the alley was loud and combined with live music it sounded like a party and we were part of it. There was a lot of "dock & dine," boats pulling in for a few hours and then leaving. The party continued well into the wee hours but being deaf has its advantages and we slept through the rest of the event.


We're off on Monday for Baltimore.

Posted by sailziveli 14:30 Archived in USA

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