Thursday, August 29, 2013

St. Michael's - San Domingo Creek (The Sequel)

I hope "part two" of St. Michael's is as good as part one! 

We had a nice motor sail today.  Before we left Skipton Creek, we used up both the port and starboard water tanks and were on our "reserve tank," the 75 - 80 gallons under the v-berth.  As a result, today was a water-making day:  approximately 206 gallons.  Now that she is topped off with water at 52 parts per million (the low salinity in the middle to north Bay makes much more pure water) - it is Hollywood showers tonight!

As we left the Wye today the winds were 10-15 out of the north.  Even with the wind, the weather was foggy and dreary.  It matched our feelings about leaving.  If you ever get the chance to visit the East Wye by boat, we highly recommend it.  And take a crab trap!

We are already beginning our journey south - but slowly!  We will work our way back to Deltaville for our haul out.  If you have ever lived on a boat in a boat yard, you understand why we picked late September.  It should be cool enough to sleep at night. 

Tomorrow we will be off for an adventure in St. Michael's - hopefully a $3.95 cheese burger at Big Al's!

Love to all,

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shaw Bay

We are truly blessed to have such cool weather in August in the Bay - and we are thankful! Peaceful at anchor, we began to dream of how nice it would be to try out our new spices on some steamed crab. Watching the weekend frenzy of recreational crabbers having success in the channel, I figured why not try our anchorage which was more shallow than the channel. I hoped for a meal of three large crabs and brought "all my wilderness explorer training to bear" (like Roger in 'Up') and rigged hand lines from the stern of the boat. That failing miserably, after church on the boat on Sunday, we went to the Wye Landing bait/boat rental store and sought advice. That advice included the exchange of $15.50 for one recreational crab trap and a dozen chicken necks, pleasantly soaked in what I speculate to be the ever fragrant menhaden oil.
It was good advice, despite the odiferous chicken necks. Our first trap setting was around 3 pm and before sunset we had three legal sized crabs. At the market rate of $70/dozen, our new investment paid for itself in the first day! (I cannot resist a Return on Investment calculation.) Since then we caught more throw backs than keepers, and even caught a fat catfish, but we still ended up with a nice dinner of four crabs Monday and four crabs Tuesday. At Big Al's we were given the wise counsel that "you do not eat crab until you are full; you eat them until you are tired." He had a point. It IS too much work to get full on steamed crabs; it is more like a social event.
The bald eagles put on a few shows during our trips to the trap. I watched one grab a fish from the water's surface, then two other eagles swoop in to steal the fish. The eagle and its fish ended up in the water while the other two flew off to the trees. It took a while for the doused eagle to get airborne again. I have no idea what happened to the fish. Could our national bird really be one who steals from one who has? The thought made me sad.
So back to crabbing…For some reason, the state of Maryland does not allow non-licensed recreational crabbers to use traps on Wednesdays. We took that opportunity to begin our move out of the East Wye and back to the more open waters of Shaw Bay. When it does heat up, like it did yesterday and today, it is best to be out in the open rather than tucked away in a tight anchorage.
I spent half the day cleaning up from an inundation of blind mosquitoes for the last two days. It seemed like there were billions of them in the cockpit. While I was cleaning up we became smothered in swallows. There must have been 50 fighting for space on the top of both masts, in the rigging, the spreaders and even on the halyards. At first I tried to shoo them away, then I banged on the rigging. I was completely disregarded. No worries. I have a soft place in my heart for swallows, especially when they eat the very bugs and flies that have been tormenting me. So I do not mind that tomorrow I will be cleaning up after the swallows…
Love to all,

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Skipton Creek - East Wye River

The Wye and East Wye Rivers are much the same as two years ago, however the lack of cruisers is a big change. Last time we were here, we must have seen more than 15 other cruising boats anchored in spots from Skipton Creek to Shaw Bay. Yesterday and today, we are the only cruising vessel here. We even took the dinghy to do almost all the remainder of circumnavigation of Wye Island. Still we saw no cruisers. Not sure the reason. Maybe it is the economy. Many cruisers have put their boats on the hard. But then what? They must have gone to work.
Last time on the East Wye River, we motored by Dividing Creek and there were four boats in there. Since it was empty this time, we poked around to see how that tight anchorage would feel in a 42 foot vessel. Not bad, we could pull it off if we wanted.
It has been warm the last two days. We recognize how spoiled we became with highs below the 80's. Even so, I believe tonight is the last night of temperature much over 70 degrees in the forecast. As I was sitting on deck, which is cooler than inside the boat, I noticed that the sunset turned into a perfect repeat of our blogsite picture cover above. That was taken here in Skipton Creek two years ago. Now and again, you can "go back."
We hope we can "go back" in getting a dozen of those large Wye River crabs. We were listening in on the crabber's radio channel this morning. Crabs have been hard to find. Some guys were only getting four crabs on a trot line run. As a result, prices are up at the market: $70/dozen. But if we can connect again with a crabber on the river and pay only $20…well, we shall see.
Love to all,

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shaw Bay - Wye River

Harness Creek was just as beautiful as we remembered. And we remember riding out hurricane Irene there. It is a 2.1 mile walk from the boat rental dock to the park entrance. Needless to say, we got our exercise. Where else do you get to hike six loads of laundry four+ miles through the woods?!? The most difficult was the last grocery run. We tried to intelligently buy a good sized inventory of fresh fruits and it had both our backpacks weighed down. I broke my own rule of only shopping with a basket instead of a cart. It is difficult to judge the weight of the groceries when they are in a cart. The walks were worth it though. We had repeated close encounters with two fawns and finally on our last day, the two shy attending does. The deer here are small and their tails seem oddly long. The pictures will have to follow when we have better internet.
We also got some quality time in with John and Evangeline on their Rinker 31 "Higher Plane." They are interested in and planning to cruise on a motor vessel. I hope we answered all their questions. It was such a wonderful reunion and I pray our paths cross again.
After John and Evangeline left, we were mostly alone in the anchorage for a few days until Bob and Joy on Arwyn, a Bristol Bristol 29.9 met up with us again. They shared their strawberry dessert and we shared stories.
We parted ways with them today, heading out into the bay about noon to ride the tide over to Wye River. The winds were light again and in route another project for the boatyard presented itself to us. There is always, always work to do and things to fix. If you have a boat and there is nothing to work on, you are living in denial.
We are all alone now, but happy to be back in Shaw Bay.
Love to all,

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Harness Creek - Quiet Waters Park

We spent more time in St. Michael's than we did two years ago - and we are glad we did. It is very rare to break into a conversation with one of the watermen. They just do not seem to have any use for 'cruisers.' But Myron talked engines with one of them and it opened a door. From there, we got some local tips, including trying a proprietary spice mixture for steaming crabs from a local merchant: "Big Al's." Not only does Big Al's Market have all the crab, fish and shrimp spices you need, they also have a fresh seafood market that also serves as a supply inventory for their seafood deli. Plus they smoke their own beef, pork and turkey to put on sandwiches. A meal there will not break the bank. I had a cheeseburger with all the trimmings for $3.95. I made it a meal deal for another $3.00 to add a side and a drink. My side: calamari fries! Those crabbers know the good local spots. For my cruising friends, Big Al's is on Talbot Avenue opposite the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum's parking area.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Bob and Joy on Arwyn anchored on San Domingo Creek the day before we left. We spent several hours catching up. So many hours in fact, that we probably ruined their dinner and dog walking plans. It was dark by the time we had the dinghy stowed away for today's travels.
Sailing today was slow, only 5 to 10 knots of wind, mostly out of the north. Slow or fast, we are here, anchored in and ready to take the weekend boater rush just to see some friends we met here two years ago. It has been precious to reunite with some of these folks we met two years back. I hope we meet more!
During the six days at St. Michael's, we had two steamy days and had to run the air conditioner with the generator. Two nights ago that all changed. We have been blessed with night temperatures in the low 60's and highs 80 or below. Myron had long pants on and I wore a fleece while we sailed today! I hope this pleasant weather lasts.
Love to all,

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{GMST}38|47.317|N|076|13.527|W|Big Al's|{GEND}

Friday, August 9, 2013

St. Michael's - San Domingo Creek

Leaving Cambridge had us down.  That is one of the burdens of this lifestyle.  We really like a place and the people, but we move on.  Sabrina was around to help untie our last dock line when we left this morning.  Once we got underway, I could feel the depression lifting.  We both encouraged each other that we are off to a new adventure and to meet new people.  Plus we had a romp up the Choptank with gusts around 25 knots.  We had to triple reef to keep Hold Fast under 7 knots.  The big winds lasted about an hour, and then let up - substantially.  Now we are at anchor south of St. Michael’s on our first steamy day in two weeks!  Oh well, that is how it goes.  We only expect a couple days of heat – but it is on these days that we really miss the air conditioner at the marina!  I am hearing thunder now, on a regular basis.  Maybe we will get cooled off by a thunderstorm.

On another subject – we discovered that our copper bottom is not effective and to our standards.  As a result, we may haul out at Deltaville to clean her up and apply bottom paint.  Even as fouled as she is, Hold Fast was really scooting along today!

Love to all,

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Cambridge Update

It was a productive week working VBS at Cambridge First Baptist Church.  We filled in wherever needed.  That included teaching 3rd and 4th grade class for two of the five nights, assisting with that same grade the other nights, and teaching missions the last night.  Assistance was needed in 3rd and 4th grade.  The first night we had 5 kids in the class.  The remaining nights the attendance ranged from 16 to 18 kids.  We barely had room to squeeze them all in – praise God!  The mission lesson was an easy one for us to teach:  “Dare to Trust.”  It was about how Paul trusted God even in the frightening experience of 14 days of a storm at sea.  Some of the kids could not believe we lived on a sailboat.  We were glad we brought a video to show the kids – to prove it!  Here is about half the kids signing 'Stand Strong' on the last night:

A few kids were a handful, but mostly they just needed love and attention.  We miss them already!!  While addressing errands around town, we have been pleasantly surprised by running into a few of the kids and their parents.  It makes Cambridge feel like home!

Brad and Sabrina loaned us their car when they left town.  We explored Salisbury, Easton and Oxford.  We used that time to celebrate our anniversary, since we spent our actual anniversary helping the church set up for VBS.  We met a few other transient sailors in the marina and found out we have mutual friends on two boats.  The cruising life is a small world.

The Farmer’s Market on the Long Wharf has been a blessing each Thursday and Saturday. 

We love cooking with fresh vegetables and also purchase picked crab.  I get back fin at $19/pound rather than pay $29/pound for jumbo lump.  So far I have made crab dip, a crab casserole and recently cream of crab soup.  The soup has been a favorite of all.  I used the Old Bay Seasoning recipe – it is super rich, and not for the faint of heart, or those who have heart problems.  I put the recipe on our supplemental website.

When Brad and Sabrina came back from their travels we got a little more time with them.  Besides some scrumptious meals, we also walked down to watch the boat races.

Then we went to Easton to take in a free street concert performed by ‘Mule Train.’  I was dubious that the music would be blue grass.  The weather was perfect, the crowd was outrageously civil, and rather than blue grass, we enjoyed some old favorites like “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry. 

We managed to view a Quaker meeting house in Easton, the oldest frame meeting house in the area that is still actively used.

One afternoon we toured with our local church host, Pat and her husband Ron.  They are natives to Cambridge and took us out to Hooper’s Island for lunch and to see a “Bridge to Nowhere.”   On the way back, we stopped by Trinity Church, one of the oldest active churches in the area.

The Amish Market in Easton was on my list and we finally made it.  I wanted to take pictures, but the crowd of shoppers prohibited any good shots.  I will let this link give you an idea of the market.  There were local merchants there as well, but we focused on the Amish goods.  We purchased fresh made melt in your mouth bread, smoked cheddar, honey and spices.  Other than the fresh made items, the goods were brought in from Pennsylvania.  Regardless, I am glad to have it.

Our last night in Cambridge we had dinner with Brad and Sabrina.

It has been quite a treat to take advantage of the things Cambridge and the surrounding areas have to offer.  I am going to miss this place and everyone here.

Love to all,