Saturday, May 19, 2012

Life and Annapolis, Maryland

We are often asked, in many different ways, to describe what occupies our time in the cruising life; I will give you some outline. Here in the Chesapeake for instance, our first job is to leaf through the essential resource - Dozier's Waterway Guide to the Chesapeake, nearly 500 pages of very relevant information to plan our trip. There are comparative marina listings, town plans, distance tables, bridge openings, tide tables - just everything you need. Firstly we fill it full of post-its and identify places that look interesting to visit. The routes can then get planned into Maxsea and we can figure out how to divide our time - a couple of weeks ahead for instance - into a rough port-by-port itinerary. I can book slips as required a few days ahead and we can adjust things as we go along. From the route, the travel days have a known number of miles, and we know how fast we travel so it is then a question of working back from a good arrival time to the required departure hour; we just need then to get to the next port and go ashore to explore. The boat chores need to get done - provisioning, cooking, washing, cleaning, engine room checks and maintenance. Then there is the socialising that takes place everywhere. Lastly we have time for oneself; the Admiral is going to be working on at least one or two quilts, and I am probably working on a guitar piece - at the moment, I am back with one of my old favorites, "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed", which I used to play (badly) back in the early 70's and now I have the music CDs I can try to improve on things forty years later. Also we will spend time on our correspondence and that great essential, Admin, in between the games of Scrabble, always toughly contested. All in all we have a busy time, not many spare moments!

In St Michaels we met fellow Nordhavn owners Jim and Marge on N43 Summer Skis, so we naturally went out for the Maryland speciality, crab cakes.
And here I spent a couple of days cleaning LM up from the tannin-coloured water in the ICW.

It is a short run of 26 miles from St Michaels - 4 hours - to Annapolis. Home to the US Naval Academy, the compact city retains old world charm and is hardly changed from its original design in the late 1600's. It is rich in history, even serving briefly as the capital of the United States at one time.

We were lucky that friends from the FUBAR, Mark and Jeann, live a short way away and came over for the day to show us round the town. There are not many cruisers who have the privilege of a private tour from a graduate of the USNA - Mark graduated in the early 70's, about the same time that I was enjoying Mathematical Economics (!) at the University of Birmingham, England. Mark is extremely knowledgeable and together with input from the musuem I feel my American Naval History might even be getting to an acceptable level. At least we now know all about John Paul Jones and also the experiments of Michelson in the 1870's to measure the speed of light. Michelson had a 2,000 ft line along the banks of the Severn in Annapolis and used a much improved technique pioneered by Foucault to get a very accurate reading of 186,355 miles per second for his Nobel Prize.
After a great day touring around with Jeann and Mark we relaxed with suitable refeshments at the Annapolis Yacht Club.

So, some advance plans. We embark tomorrow, pushing further North as part of the spring migration, following the emerging summer weather (today it is 88 degrees F here in Annapolis). Leaving soon after dawn, we go to the head of the Chesapeake. Even in the mid-1600's it was discovered that only a few miles of marshy land separated Chesapeake Bay from Delaware Bay and now there is a connecting canal. Down the Delaware Bay we will soon be paying close attention to weather before further ventures into Atlantic waters and our destination in a week's time, New York. After a week in New York we head up Long Island Sound and soon after will head to England for a month for family visits and so on.

At this stage of our journey I had always intended to contact a friend and colleague in New York. We worked closely for a number of years in the early 90's on the transatlantic bankrupcy, Robert Maxwell, Maxwell Communications plc and MacMillan Corporation. Tragically I discovered all too late that he passed away, peacefully, on 16 February 2012, at the age of 58. Charles ("Chet") Gerdts III was such fun to work with and as sharp as they come. I don't really have words to describe how sad I am that he has gone. Tim Allen and I will share our memories of you Chet, Rest in Peace.

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