Dockside Days

This weekend was spent mostly dockside, taking care of a growing list of boat-related “To Dos” before our summer visitation schedule really kicks in. Included on the list was finally launching our Zodiac.

While the skies were partly sunny, the wind was blowing good and the Bay was rocking with white caps. It was actually the perfect weekend not to “throw off the bowlines” and to stay ashore.

Prior to tackling our nautical punch list, we decided to log our exercise by walking around the town of Rock Hall.  It was a nice aerobic stroll.  We took a few breaks on our three mile trip around the western tip of town to snap some pics.

So, this week’s post is a bit shorter on the prose and longer on the visuals. Hope you enjoy.

Fair Winds & Following Seas,
Keith ⚓️

Emerald Green Beach Grass Tickling the Bow of an Aptly-Named Sailboat On the Hard

 

Looking Northernly from Gratitude Marina

 

Looking Southernly From Gratitude Marina

 

The Jetty at Ferry Park Beach

 

Red Nun 6, Which Broke Loose In Swan Creek Channel and Washed Ashore in the Early 1900s. Now on Display Adjacent to Ferry Park Beach.

 

Oysterman Statue, Overlooking Rock Hall Harbor

 

Patriotic Sailboat Ready for the “Rock the Harbor” Event

 

Admiralty (a.k.a. Fisherman) Anchor on a Resident’s Lawn

 

Great Blue Heron in the Marsh of Swan Creek, Near The Inn at Haven Harbour

 

Stiff Wind Blowing Through Haven Harbour Marina

 

Anchors Aweigh

Summer arrived in full force this past weekend. With temps climbing into the highs 80s, Alice and I decided to cruise to Annapolis for the weekend. After arriving at Haven Harbour Friday afternoon we learned from our dock mates Faith and Bob that they, too, planned to cruise to Annapolis for the weekend. We were in for a fun time.

We set sail Saturday morning. The skies were blue, bright and beautiful. And the winds were calm. It was the perfect day to be on the water. We powered into the Bay and set out south towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a majestic dual-span structure that connects the western and eastern shores of Maryland.

Annapolis, the Maryland capital, is located just past the bridge, on the Severn River. Located about 15 nautical miles from our home port, Annapolis is the home of the US Naval Academy, St. John’s College (the third oldest college in the U.S.) and tempting tidewater cuisine.  Once under its expansive span, we wrapped around a massive cargo ship and headed west towards the mouth of the Severn.

Inside the river we maneuvered south again into Spa Creek and Annapolis Harbor, in search of a mooring ball. The Creek was active and locating a ball was a bit challenging. After some searching, we curled around a beautiful Grand Banks and set our sights on #15. Although it’s been a while since she hooked a mooring, Alice plucked the ball with precision and in a matter of moments we were tied off and in business.

After registering with the Harbor Master and taking a few minutes to get settled we hailed the water taxi, headed down “Ego Alley” and disembarked in town on Dock Street. Ego Alley is the narrow waterway that flows from town into Spa Creek. The name comes from the parade of boats that sail in and out of the tight channel like models strutting their stuff down a fashion runway.

From there we were off to the Annapolis Arts & Wines Festival at the Navy & Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for some wine tasting and art appreciation. The Festival was well organized and pretty lively. We sipped a nice sampling of wines, noshed on some food and met an eclectic collection of canines. My highlights were the German roasted cashews, the Lab-Dachshund mix and the tasty red from Chateau Bu-De Winery.

Having had our fair share of grapes, and ample sunshine, we headed back into town to O’Leary’s Seafood for an early dinner of mussels, soft shell crab, rock fish and salmon. Sufficiently stuffed, we saddled up to the bar next to Faith and Bob for our post-, and their pre-dinner, cocktail. Happy Birthday, Bob!

A picture perfect sunset awaited us upon our return to the ‘Tis the SeaSun mooring. The orange sky was eventually replaced by a fantastic full moon. We closed out the night relaxing to our Nautical Nights playlist under a brilliantly illuminated disc and a plethora of stars.

It’s easy to see why Maryland’s capital was originally called Providence. Heading back home after a relaxing weekend, we were thankful for having spent time under it’s natural protective care.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Keith
 ⚓️

Fishtail Astern After Passing Under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Heading Down Ego Alley

Hanging With Faith & Bob
When the Sun Goes Down…

 

Yachta, Yachta, Yachta

Unlike the “all about nothing” Seinfeld series and the cast substituting “Yada, Yada, Yada” for actual words, this weekend was an all about something “Yachta, Yachta, Yachta” kind of time at Haven Harbour Marina.  It was The Haven Yacht Club’s annual wear white party for new members and it was a wonderful waterside affair, with lots of maritime conversation.

THYC rolled out the red carpet (actually, white streamers and balloons) for the newbies. Finally, we had a weather positive weekend. The sun was out, the wine was flowing and the introductions were plenty.  It was so restorative to feel the warmth of the sun and experience the warm welcomeness of all the THYC members.

Our weekend guests, Michelle and Patrick, selected the perfect time to visit. As first time boaters, they were thoroughly enjoying the nautical lifestyle. At the party, there was plenty of noshing, sipping and mingling.  We met a bunch of new people and exchanged plenty of boat cards.  It was the true definition of warmth.

Post party, we returned to ‘Tis the SeaSun to chill.  As the sun set over the western shore we saw two of our new THYC friends, Bob and Faith, passing by in their dingy, so we invited them aboard for some Mermaid Water. After only a few weeks at Haven Harbour we are already building gratifying relationships with our fellow mariners.

Fittingly, we finished the night playing a few rounds of Jenga, the physical skills game whose name is derived from the Swahili word meaning, “to build.”

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Keith ⚓️

Alice and I Getting Our White On
THYC Members Watching the Flag Raising
Michelle and Patrick Soaking Up the Warmth of the Sun
Michelle & Alice

Not Lost, Just Exploring

“Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation.” So said the explorer Captain John Smith of the Chesapeake Bay.  Having spent a fair amount of time in Maryland by now, we couldn’t agree more. 

When I started this blog, my first post was titled, Explore. Dream. Discover. This week we set out to do just that, explore our new weekend waterway. With it’s creeks, rivers, coves and tributaries, the Bay is certainly a treasure trove of discovery for a curious captain.  

The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend, was finally upon us. And the atmosphere at Haven Harbour Marina was quite festive — lots of red, white and blue attire, as well as American flags flying proudly and bunches of bunting on display.

This weekend was also our first time leaving the dock since taking delivery of ’Tis the SeaSun.  Alice and I set out on Saturday to finally do some exploring, setting our sights on the Magothy River, a 12 mile tributary sandwiched between the Patapsco and Severn rivers.

I had charted our course on paper prior to embarking (I was still learning how to program my chartplotter).  It was an overcast and hazy day.  Visibility was okay, however the haze made visual navigation a bit challenging, so we needed to rely on our charts and compass.

Off we cruised. heading south past Gratitude Marina, out of Swan Creek channel and into the Bay, setting a westerly course toward Baltimore Lighthouse.  Or so we thought. 

As luck would have it, we weren’t able to locate a key marker in the water, Green Can UC 1 (yeah, I have that one committed to memory now),  so I pointed my bow in the direction where I thought UC 1 should be and what I thought was a lighthouse in the distance.  Turns out I headed more southwest than westerly, causing us to overshoot our destination, by a pretty wide margin.

It was time to regroup, so we headed back to port with a renewed determination to learn my new chartplotter!   We didn’t get lost, Alice and I agreed.  We were just being explorers.  And after all, is there anything better than a day on the bay?  We think not.

Sunday was here and with it came time for a new adventure.  We had regrouped, recharted and recruited.  Joined by our crewmates and new friends, Peder and Cathy, we set out under partly cloudy skies for the Magothy River.  

This time around, with our route deftly plugged into the chartplotter, we easily located Baltimore Light, letting us know that we were in the right place. As we passed it to starboard, we all commented on how cool a beacon it was. Rising more than 50 feet above the water, it’s a white, octagonally shaped, two-story brick structure with a mansard roof, the very type of covering that Vampire Weekend sang about on their debut album: I see a mansard roof through the trees/I see a salty message written in the eaves.

We slowed to 6 knots to enter the Magothy’s tight channel.  Once inside, it was wide and deep, offering multiple sailing routes.  Seeing a large Formula pass us to starboard we decided to follow her, and it turned out to be a fantastic choice.

Throttling up ‘Tis the SeaSun we kept Gibson Island to starboard, passing both Dobbins and Little Island to port.  Soon we entered Red Cove, a protected anchorage with dozens of boats at rest, all overlooking a majestic horse farm. We dropped our hook and chilled.

After a couple of hours the weather turned so we pulled up anchor and headed back to Rock Hall in a light rain, Peder at the helm with me and Alice and Cathy behind us marveling at the homes that dotted the shoreline. 

The Bay was nearly empty as we got up on plane and bid adieu, for now, to the Magothy.  Our Beneteau handled the small chop nicely and just about 60 minutes later we were back at our slip.

Feeling a strong sense of accomplishment Alice and I poured ourselves some wine, toasted the explorers who came before us and plotted our next adventure.

Fair Winds & Following Seas,

Keith ⚓️

Happy Memorial Day from Rock Hall, MD
Blue Opening in the Clouds.  We have the Bay to Ourselves.
Glad We Found You, and Your Mansard Roof, Baltimore Lighthouse
Alice, Cathy and Peder
Bow Buddies
Hide Tide Farm on the Magothy River.  On Hot Days the Horses Jump In for a Swim.

 

Boat Drinks…and Boat Cards

Any nautical wheeler worth his or her salt is familiar with the term boat drinks, both from the Jimmy Buffett song and the actual satisfying beverage. Dark & Stormy, Gin & Tonic, Rum Punch, Painkiller and, of course, Margarita. In fact, some vessels even boast their own signature boat drinks.

We always love sampling the favorite pours of our dock mates. On board ‘Tis the SeaSun, Mermaid Water is our signature cocktail. Mermaid Water is a refreshing combination of spiced and coconut rums, pineapple and lime juices and blue curacao. We serve it with a mini mermaid lounging on the rim of the glass. It’s tasty and makes for a fun conversation piece.

Up until this past weekend, we weren’t familiar with boat cards. What are boat cards, you ask? Think of them as business cards for your boat. What a brilliant idea.

We’re constantly meeting new people. In addition to trying to remembering all their names we are tasked with recalling the names of their boats. Enter the boat card – a handy, dandy reminder of a boat’s name and its crew, as well as their contact information. Our dock mate, Glenn, presented us with our first boat card and naturally, since we loved it so much, Alice and I went right out and designed and printed our own.

Speaking of this weekend, it was a wonderful family affair. From cornhole and ice cream (amidst a torrential downpour) with Margaret, to toes in the water and crab cakes with Britt to giant chess and blue cheese sliders with Alice.

I truly am one lucky guy.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Keith ⚓️

Mermaid Water
Our nautical calling card
 

Overcast day on Ferry Park Beach
Britt’s got her toes in the water…
Knighty night

Ashore Thing

When the wind is blowing 25 knots, one thing that is a sure thing is we’ll be staying ashore.  That scenario played itself out this past weekend as we welcomed our friend, Karen, aboard ‘Tis the SeaSun for her first ever seaside sleepover. While the nasty weather prevented us from heading out on a cruise, it did afford us the opportunity to roll around Rock Hall, as well as meet up with our new friends from The Haven Yacht Club (THYC).

With Saturday being Derby Day, we decided to watch the most exciting two minutes in sports in the marina’s welcome center.  Mint Juleps in hand, we donned our hats (holding on to them oh so tightly), dodged the raindrops and meandered our way around the dock to watch the “Run for the Roses.”

For an impromptu event, the room was packed.  We met a bunch of great folks, including many who travel to the marina from our section of Pennsylvania. In addition to learning about some great boating destinations — such as the Magothy and Corsica Rivers — we scored a new, faster driving route as well.  I’m Always Dreaming of that.

Afternoon turned into evening, we said our goodbyes (no Irish exit here) and ultimately made our way back to ’Tis, her blue underwater swim platform lights guiding our way.  Back aboard, we enjoyed a dinner of grilled pineapple and fresh crab cakes from Chester River Seafood.  Along with some wine, of course.  Red for Karen and I; white for Alice.

The wind was still a major factor Sunday morning.  We woke up to white caps on Swan Creek so we decided to do some scenic exploration.  With a thumbs up recommendation from the prior evening fresh in our minds we decided to try out Muskrat Alley Cafe for Sunday breakfast.  After traversing the marsh separating Haven Harbour from Osprey Point, we walked down Rock Hall Ave, straight into the wind, only to learn that the Cafe was not yet open for the season.  Turns out we were a week early.   It looks like a fun place, so we’ll definitely be back.

We returned to the marina and jumped in our car for a trip around town, where we enjoyed a latte, spied a mermaid on a rock and experienced a little slice of Americana.  All in all, it was a great weekend.  See you soon, Rock Hall.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Keith ⚓️

Always Dreaming time
The trail to Osprey Point
Muskrat Alley Cafe Entrance
The barn at Osprey Point
Mermaid on a Rock

 

Shippy, Shippy Shape

For goodness sakes, this weekend was dedicated to getting ‘Tis the SeaSun in ship shape and Bristol fashion. By Sunday afternoon we were well on our way to being “tidily tied down and secure.” From bow to stern, starboard to port, topside to below decks, Alice and I cleaned, organized our provisions and stowed our gear. It’s safe to say that she is officially ready for a summer of entertaining and cruising the Bay.

This New England boy is quickly becoming a Marylander, proudly displaying the state flag on my bow rail and looking forward to my weekly crab intake. Old Bay is even becoming a basic food group for me!  But fear not my Northern family and friends. While I’m looking forward to cruising due West to Baltimore and catching an Orioles game at Camden Yards, I won’t be trading in my Red Sox swag and swapping baseball allegiances any time soon.

In addition to the flag raising and some serious windshield washing, I carved out time to familiarize myself with the helm’s Simrad multi-function display. It’s unlike any piece of electronics I’ve ever owned before. Boasting a large, touch screen with a chart plotter, radar, sonar, auto pilot, speed, depth and so much more, I especially love the ability to overlay radar on top of the navigational charts. No surprise here, but it’s going to take quite some time before I’m utilizing all is has to offer.

One of the few features that the Simrad does not offer is a forward collision warning for my head. With the entrance to the master cabin being three inches lower than my body’s LOA, I’m was in desperate need of a warning system so as not to constantly bump my head. Our non-tech solution? A strategically placed graphic (see photo) that will remind me to “duck” as I enter the cabin.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,
Keith ⚓️

#beneteau

Reaching for the top of the windshield
MD State Flag
The view from the helm
Don’t forget to Duck!

 

 

Weather or Knot

“There’s something about this Sunday/It’s a most peculiar gray.”  Ok, Jimmy Buffet, maybe it was a Friday.  But it was definitely gray.  And rainy, cold, windy and foggy.  Oh, and a small craft advisory to boot.  But I was determined to leave Shady Side, MD on the western shore and guide ‘Tis the SeaSun on her maiden voyage to her new home on the Eastern Shore, in the town of Rock Hall.

We were all up early to greet the day (and the rain) — Alice and I and our good friends, Brad and Marylou.  The men set sail from Parish Creek while the ladies took the terrestrial trek.  With the vessel’s hardtop closed and the wipers on, we rounded Daymark G’1″ and were on our way.  Captain Phil had charted our course and Brad was serving admirably as First Mate.  I hit the throttle and got her up on plane, trimming the tabs and settling in at 2500 RPMs for our ride.

Despite the challenging weather, she handled the voyage with aplomb.  With visibility so poor, we were challenged to dodge the crab pot lines and give a wide berth to the trolling striped bass (or what the locals call rockfish) anglers.  Passing one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the Bay, Thomas Point Shoal Light, to port was a real treat.  Slicing the waves underneath the Bay Bridge, even better.  As we arrived in our new home port the rain subsided just long enough to allow us to open the roof and take in a panoramic view of Swan Creek and its tranquil beauty, vast wetlands and numerous duck blinds.  It was peacefully quiet and incredible serene.

At the end of a wonderfully wet weekend, we’re in our new home and ‘Tis the SeaSun is ready for the summer.  While Thomas Point Shoal lights the way for mariners, our own mermaid lights the way for our guests.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Keith ⚓️

Explore. Dream. Discover

Hello, or should I say, Ahoy!  And welcome to my blog.  After many years of “wanting to,” “planning to” and “hoping to,” I decided to bypass the toe-dipping and dive right into the deep end of the pool.  I will finally write about one particular passion of mine – boating.

Being in, on or around the water has been a lifelong pursuit.  This summer, Alice and I embark on a new adventure, having traded in our 37′ Four Winns for a new 41′ Beneteau powerboat.  Christened, ‘Tis the SeaSun, she’s a sleek-looking sports cruiser with European style and sophistication.  She will be the inspiration for our summer of exploring, dreaming and discovering.

In addition to a different vessel, we’ll also be cruising new waterways, having left the shoreline of Connecticut and its accompanying Long Island Sound for Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and it’s abundant tributaries.  We’re looking forward to lots of gunkholing, blue crabs and Mermaid Water!  And even a Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend (Avast, me hearties!).

Here’s to a fantastic “SeaSun” of salty stories and fun photos as we welcome our family and friends, and connect with new marina and cruising cohorts.  Until then, I’ll leave you with a favorite nautical quote of mine from Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Keith ⚓️