Saturday, July 27, 2013

Disappearing islands in the Chesapeake

These two islands are portions of the remains of Maryland's James Island at the mouth of the Little Choptank River. Quite a few families lived here in the 1800s, then hundreds of sica deer. We saw these victims of erosion again today as we sailed up the Little Choptank to Fishing Creek. The tide was higher than five years ago so we were able to get through the shallow section and anchor way up on Church Creek. 

All was quiet until the jet skiers arrived. These noisy creations are just below 
mosquitos on my bothersome scale. 

We dinghied up the creek to Old Trinity Church that was built in the 1780s. Lots of the Carroll family so important in Maryland history were buried here. 

Still hoping for a cool night in this remote anchorage. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wind on the nose again?

That is a common sailors' lament when the wind is coming from exactly where you want to go. 

Today we headed NE to the Little Choptank River, and the NE wind was a cool one. Anchored in Slaughter Creek in spite of its name. Not slaughtering any insects yet!

We dinghied in to the Slaughter Creek Marina for dinner at Palm Beach Willie's. 

Cute logo and shirts, but greasy food. 


This acronym means Bigger Boats Go First. Captain Pete and I follow that rule ALL the time, especially with behemoths like these.

Some skippers play chicken with these fast moving ships and frequently get a radio call such as "East traveling sailboat, alter your course."

We hailed m/v Rhapsody that appeared to be on autopilot a few days ago when we saw no one at the bridge after he came very close to a tug and container ship, seemed aimed OUR way, and then at nearby Smith Point Light. Never saw a boat make such a sharp turn so quickly! 

If the gas industry gets its way, more megaship tankers will be in this section of the Chesapeake by Calvert Cliffs soon when this liquified natural gas terminal becomes a major east coast LNG export terminal. Rhapsody, do not doze off again. 

Just north of this LNG terminal are the two reactors of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and its discharged cooling waters. Steamed crabs anyone?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

St. Leonard Creek beckoned

We enjoyed this pretty creek five years ago, so it called to us again as 20+ knot north winds remain on the Bay. 

High wooded banks greet and well hidden homes greeted us for the majority of this creek as we looked for a sheltered anchorage. 

Then voila, the tiki tacky Vera's White Sand Restaurant and annual bikini contest appear. Vera in her diaphanous gown and martini greeted many a visitor for 60 years. We were sad to hear that she had passed to the tiki bar in the heavens just before our last visit here. But the new owners keep her spirit alive, according to Tripadvisor reviews. Just had to take a few photos of this legendary Calvert County spot with plastic palm trees. 

Sweatshirts today on Solomons

Who'd a thunk it? But that wonderful cold front brought 60s today. What a welcome relief.

We have now stopped in Solomons MD at least ten times on various cruises up and down the Bay over the last ten years.    And we always find it charming and conveniently located. My Dad was here in 1943 for amphibious landing practices before the troops landing in North Africa. 

Returned to the Calvert Marine Museum for another visit because we can't remember all the cool facts they present. This now extinct shark awed us. 

Cool lighthouse here too. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bombs away!

Most folks don't know that bombing exercises occur in the Chesapeake Bay on a regular basis. Quite a few "bomb area" captions appear on nautical charts and chart plotter screens. 

Yesterday we could not have sailed this close to the target ship below since pilots were testing their aims  It seems such an inglorious end for a mighty ship. 

I am perfecting my aim today as well. Those mean horseflies with the big teeth are testing my patience as we head to Solomons MD. The fly swatter got a workout until the wind picked up and the bay got very lumpy. It was kinda like riding a rocking horse. For 8 hours!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More about crabs

We are surrounded by watermen boats and crab sheds here on Smith Island so I must remark on the current price of Chesapeake crabs--from $40-$100/dozen for medium and $50-$165 for large ones. 

Watermen get up at 3 am and quickly head out on their boats, not knowing what that day's harvest will be. For softshells, crabs must be checked three times a day, seven days a week, removing those that have shed their shells. One bushel of crabs yields about four pounds of crabmeat. Experienced crab pickers can extract about four pounds of crabmeat per hour. 

So relish those crab cakes!

And those Smith Island Cakes are tasty too. $50+ for 10 layers of various kinds!

Guess what's for dinner

Watermen come back around 2 pm. Tour boat leaves at 4 pm. No restaurants are open for dinner so we bought two crab cakes from takeout and two pieces of 10-layer Smith Island Cake for dinner back on MicMac. AC is cooling off the boat and there is a weak Internet signal if I stand in the right place onboard. So we are set for the night. 

A wonderful and unique place to visit, especially if you want a relaxing return to yesteryear. There are bed and breakfasts too if you want more than a day trip, and a delightful museum. 

Local post office is open part time for the 200 residents. 

And if it's a hot day and someone asks, "Abut to met?" simply say "Yes I am ABOUT TO MELT." An Elizabethan/Cockney accent is alive and well here, just like on Tangier Island VA farther south. 

Finally sailed to Smith Island

Seas were a bit feisty today, especially as we crossed the mouth of the Potomac (too much bluster in Congress), but we arrived on Smith Island around noon. 

The seabird welcoming committee was on the jetty as we motored through the channel to Smith Island Marina in Ewell. Then Pauli Eades and Milty officially welcomed us.  

I have had Smith Island, Maryland, on my bucket list since reading Tom Horton's ISLAND OUT OF TIME about three years ago. Really a group of islands in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, these low lying lands are threatened by erosion as well as hurricanes and nor'easters. Pauli told us that half of her own home still has no electricity since Sandy. FEMA was a bit remiss when it came to this island but half the homes now have new roofs thanks to homeowners' insurance. 

At first we only saw "Closed" signs but quickly realized that we had arrived before today's tour boat. 

But Ruke's was open and we ordered soft shell crabs. What else! Ruke's has a colorful past including two former owners who almost shot each other over some misunderstanding. 

Super high tide was flooding some of the streets, so the golf cart rental folks would not allow any rentals to explore the island and see Rhodes Point. Not to worry! The locals we had enjoyed talking with during lunch offered us a ride and tour. VERY friendly folks!

If you live here, you are a Methodist because all three churches are Methodist. 

It seems that many of the homes here are either abandoned or for sale. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Today's fashion statement

This is my Rosie Casals look. Who remembers her?

'Tis a tad warm today as we approach our Sandy Point anchorage. 

Captain Pete says he will put up the breeze booster-or as we often refer to it, the booze breester. 

We fished out this abandoned tube float on our way here. It has two drink holders too for two-fisted drinkers. Pete can't  wait to try it out. 

Let's hear it for the menhaden

This bony oily fish earns few headlines although it is a big part of the Chesapeake food chain. Rockfish think its tasty. Humans, not so much. 

So as we approach Omega Protein's fishing fleets out of Reedville, Virginia, I applauded last month's $7.5 million fine on that company for its blatant offenses of dumping fish parts along with oily bilge water into MY Bay. 

And no one seems concerned about another one of their damages to the Chesapeake that we reported last year when we saw one of their fleets in shallow water off the mouth of the Piankatank River. Their keels were kicking up huge plumes of muddy river bottom in their wakes. No chance of underwater grasses surviving that assault!

And who limits Omega's catches? The VA legislators who know so much about the state of the Bay. Efforts to put the regs into other hands keep losing out. 

Ospreys doing well on the Chesapeake

And so are the fishermen as we round Windmill Point Light. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Heading north

We haven't taken MicMac out for a long outing since May! The temps are supposed to be in the high 80s, instead of high 90s, so we will head north to Great Wicomico River tomorrow. Maybe Reedville, or maybe Mill Creek even though the Forgoshes are in Maine at the moment.

We made it to CoCoMo's in Deltaville for dinner tonight while the AC cooled down MicMac before a big thunder boomer cooled off things too.