Monday, August 22, 2011

Eastern Shore Living

Saturday evening August 20, 2011

As we walked off the docks this morning headed for breakfast and a trip to the Easton Farmer’s Market a fledgling Osprey screeched overhead while carrying a large fish in his talons.  We wondered if it was one of his first captures. Maybe he didn’t know what to do with it as he swooped lower over the water and out into the anchorage repeatedly crying for an adult to help.  Then over the woods South of the marina, but much much higher in the air was the flash of a white tail. As it circled we were able to confirm with new friends in the parking lot that it was a Bald Eagle.

The lightning and torrential rains of last night were finally over, and the heat of another Maryland summer day was upon us.  And after three weeks of retirement I thought it was time to begin to chronicle our journey,

Friday morning July 29 we packed out of our temporary quarters (of 68 days) at the Marriott Residence Inn and filled the Saab and Envoy to overflowing.  We dropped a few items off at our storage locker in Riverside, NJ, picked up our bicycles and headed for the boat.  The weekend was taken up with finding a place for everything we thought we’d need till fall, buying groceries and cleaning up our boat which still suffered the need of spring cleaning. Promise had been abandoned during the sale of our home, the subsequent garage sale and finally packing what was left for storage with the aid of a moving company.

Monday we headed off in our Envoy to Annapolis to meet Micah with his Yukon and car tops to pick up an Achilles dinghy and Tohatsu outboard motor we’d ordered a couple of months earlier from Maritime Solutions. The dinghy allows us to explore shallower waters and during the next week we made several runs up Swan Creek to break in the motor, enjoy the evening sunsets and savor the rural country side of colonial homes intermingled along the shores with cornfields and woods.

After several morning bike rides, each one a little longer than the last, I was greeted with a flat tire.  Luckily the bikes were still in the barn, as by now I could have been a few miles from home before it went out.  After stealing a front tire off of Susan’s bike, so I could complete my intended ride, I dropped both bikes off at the Chestertown Bike Shop for a much needed replacement of all four tires and tubes.

By the following Monday we still hadn’t taken the boat out, so we tossed the dock lines and headed out into the bay for a day sail, only to learn that the engine wouldn’t rev beyond 2500 RPM.  We put up the sails doused the engine and headed out to mid bay while I pondered on the situation.  As we lunched in a light breeze on a close tack I called Gratitude Marina service to be informed that we’d need a short haul and bottom cleaning.  They could take me that afternoon, but I was already out in the steamer channel, so we fell off, restarted the engine and made back for home port.  As we pulled in the service crew was waiting for us and Promise was soon getting a bucket of barnacles scraped off the prop and a thorough power wash of the bottom slime and beard dangling from the keel.  Good news and bad news came an hour or so later. Promise was fine, but the starter motor for the lift was broke.  Not to worry someone had already left for town, 14 miles or so away, for a new starter. Another hour later the new starter didn’t fit and the crew was off for a second replacement.  The marina manager stopped by and asked if he could give us a ride somewhere or home.  We jokingly let him know that home was hanging from the slings of the lift and we had nowhere else to go. By 5:00 PM we were back in the water, engine capable of turning the 3300 max RPM it was supposed to, and then headed back to our slip for dinner.

As afternoon temperatures climbed each day to nearly triple digits, we were forced to spend more time down below in the air conditioning.  We even took in a movie matinee, An American in Paris, only $5.50 senior rate.  Mark and Alison offered to bring Eden, now 17 months, to spend a couple of days.  We began preparations for the weekend, which were delayed by the onset of a summer cold until the following Wednesday, each day we received an update and with temps in the 90’s and storms it was good that the kids held off their visit.

Eden slept in the Pac and Play set up on the dining table in the salon.  Mark and Alison didn’t complain about the drone of the A/C in their suite.  Everyone slept well with the fresh air and the new surroundings.  The wind finally settled down on Thursday so we headed out into the bay only to have the wind die all together.  It was a nice afternoon to motor up the mouth of the Chester River and then over to check out the fish trap on Love Point.  Eden finally slept on Mark’s lap after fussing without an afternoon nap, so when the wind finally returned we decided to let the din of the engine keep her sleeping and we motored back to the slip for a takeout dinner from the Inn.

Friday morning Mark and I set off in the dinghy for a trip up to the end of Swan Creek.  With a falling tide we eventually found our self bogged down in mud and weeds and barley made it back down the creek.  We pulled the dinghy up on the foredeck with the spinnaker halyard for the first time, and then used the new Cato motor lift to secure the outboard to the stern rail for storage..

The kids took off in time to avoid the crowds for “Pirates and Wenches” weekend in town.  Saturday Susan and I rode bikes into Rock Hall to check out the gala affair.  I found a large piece of chocolate covered Cheesecake on a stick to get all over my shirt, not recommended eating on a bicycle on a hot misty day.  Oyster Court was full of youngsters being entertained by a Punch and Judy type puppet show and various brigands and roustabouts dressed in Pirate costumes trying to act like what they thought a pirate should act like. Arrugh!

After catching up on laundry, restocking the boat and several trips to West Marine for boat stuff we set off early Wednesday morning for the 19 mile sail to Annapolis.  We picked up a mooring ball, #35, just opposite the Severn Sailing Association and a bit up creek from the Spa Creek Green can.  Later that evening we watched a hundred or so boats check in at the Annapolis Yacht Club, pick up crews and head out into the harbor for the start of the race.  To our surprise the last mark before the finish line was the Spa Creek Green can and the same hundred or so boats all came racing around the can and straight for Promise swinging on the mooring in the evening breeze.  Some boats opted to pinch into the creek thoroughfare and fall off just after passing our bow while others choose to run through the mooring field tacking back and forth through the other boats to the finish.  For most boats it was a very competitive class by class finish with many boats stacked up bow to stern like a deck of cards, especially what I believed were the two Navy Academy boats.

Thursday morning we headed back home on a downwind run with just the jib out in 15-20 knot winds, even sailing right into Swan Creek without so much as a change in tack or jibe.

Friday we bought groceries again in anticipation of our Friday Night local Rock Hall race, only to get washed out by storms and a broken reefing line as 25-30 knot wind and rain forced the four of us on Moonshadow to scratch.  We watched as 6 of our fleet of up to 15 boats sailed off between huge storm clouds headed for Green can 1. Not much of a racing season this year for me.  The weather just wouldn’t cooperate, but the potluck that evening with fellow sailors made up for the lousy weather.

More on the travels and travails of Promise in the coming weeks.  Keep in touch. Maybe I can learn to post pictures.