The Summer Cruise has come and gone, and what a cruise it was. Good weather, generally good winds, and fine company. The Orioles even won! We travelled 150 miles around the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. The scenery ranged from the bucolic Eastern Shore to the industrial steel works and shipyards of Baltimore, and to the urban playground that is now Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area. There are plenty of great pictures on the web
The Sunday night in Annapolis was uneventful. Brian and Rebecca Palmer showed up with their daughter Elyse. We were awoken bright and early by the Naval Academy plebes doing the morning workout at 5:30 sharp. This gave us the opportunity for an early breakfast (at Chick & Ruth's) and start to Fairlee Creek. It was a motoring day – no wind, but no motor boats, and with an awning, very pleasant.
Fairlee Creek had changed a lot since I was last there, maybe 20 years ago. The most obvious change is the Tiki Bar on the beach as you go in. This was thankfully not open. I understand that on the weekends, it is a motor boat filled place. However, when we were there it was very peaceful, good swimming and the beaches kept the kids happy. Laughing Gull was joined by Loretta and Cabot Lodge on Gendarme, Ray and Sandy Meyer on Viceroy, Jim and Barb Palmer on Waconah, and Brian and Rebecca Palmer Palmer on L'Esprit.
The following morning commenced with Jim Palmer goading me on to sail out of the creek. Fairlee Creek has a narrow entrance, and the current sweeps through there. It is often a good place to watch the ill prepared land on the beach. Apparently Jim used to sail in and out all the time, and surely I was man enough … you know the drill. Anyway, we had a late start in about 10 knots of wind. I managed to sail out of the creek; Brian followed, and was swept onto the beach, which slowed him down for a few minutes. Grounding not withstanding, Brian does not win the summer cruise keel wheels award – more on that later. It was a run up the Bay, with whisker poles and spinnakers, and the wind freshening to 15 knots by the time we sailed up the Sassafras to Turner Creek.
Turner Creek has a tiny entrance. However, it has more water and space than the charts would lead you to believe. It too has a nice beach for cooling off on, and once in the creek, there is room to anchor right off the old produce warehouse that in one form or another has been sitting there for a few hundred years.
The following day we swam, explored ashore and generally lazed around until about 3:00 and had a leisurely sail up to Georgetown further up the Sassafras. At Georgetown, we anchored below the town, and had dinner ashore.
The day started with modest winds, which gradually built into the afternoon. The lack of wind was offset by the strong current running with us, which added around two knots to our speed. Worton Creek is another excellent location. The beach outside the Creek was just right for kids, and generally being a slug. Inside the Creek, Laughing Gull got a slip at the marina where Bill Carter was hosting dinner, and the other boats went further into the creek, and anchored in two rafts. Sue Barrett on Tern Two joined us and moored with the Lodges, and the Meyers.
The highlight of the day was the feast that Bill and Chris Carter laid out for us. A big thanks from all of us on the cruise for all that effort. It was a pleasant evening, and next year, we will have to do something similar – although perhaps with more of us pitching in. The kids had the boatyard dogs to play with, and the marina opened up the facilities to all of us in the group.
The evening closed out with the best grounding of the cruise. The Lodge, Meyer, and Barrett crews returning to find their raft nestled snugly into the weeds. Being Albergs, and generally well behaved, the boats had grounded themselves in a very civilized manner (See the picture on-line), and came off without too much effort.
From Warton Creek to Rock Hall is about 20 miles. Most of the fleet got there by early to mid afternoon. The Adams and the Palmers anchored outside the Creek, and played in the water with the kids. We had a pleasant lunch anchored in the breeze, and set sail mid afternoon. It was past 6:00 by the time we got to Swan Creek in Rock Hall and joined the raft for an evening swim. Rock Hall was the first place we saw any jelly fish, although they were so few of them that they did not stop anyone from swimming. J Berquist joined the group in preparation for the white sail race, which brought the total number of boats to eight.
The wind had built overnight to a steady 18 – 20 knots from the south. This made for a perfect sail to Baltimore. The Palmers (Esprit and Waconah), and Sue Barrat headed close hauled for the Magothy. The Lodges headed up the Chester, and the rest of the boats headed for Baltimore on a beam reach in somewhat lumpy water. Getting out of Rock Hall to get to the starting mark for the white sail race was dead upwind, with everything bouncing all over the place. However, once we rounded the mark and got headed for Baltimore, things settled down. Laughing Gull and Viceroy were sailing together. Viceroy got to the finish mark about 2 minutes ahead of Laughing Gull – which put the average speed at just in excess off six knots for the 17+ mile trip. Trish and Mike Lehman rolled in for the game, and to host a wonderful party on the dock – See Trish’s write up for details.
The last day, and finally the weather began to feel like a Maryland summer. The forecast had been for a cold front that was to bring a north wind, and we were all looking forward to scooting down the Bay with a following wind. Alas, the weatherman was wrong. We flew the chute for a few miles out of the river, and then turned into a motor boat.
This cruise exceeded my expectations. The weather was manageable. The kids took to the cruising life remarkably easily, and by and large I was able to keep the beer cold. The Eastern Shore has not changed that much since I was last there. It retains its charm, and is just far enough out of the way that you feel as if you are “away” from it all. Baltimore on the other hand has changed considerably, and from a boater’s perspective for the better. A special thanks to Bill Carter and Jim Palmer for helping to plan this trip. The cruise was better for their local knowledge. I, for one, am looking forward to the Fall Cruise, and between now and then to seeing folks on the water.