Annapolis to La Trappe July 29 to August 17, 2006

Boating Pleasures

After delivering by rental auto the Norwegians to DC for their flight, we returned to Annapolis to resume our relentless pursuit of boating pleasures.  Some of which are more fun than others, of course.   For example, we hiked through the heat to the Annapolis Sailrite dealer, where Barb bought a new industrial-strength sewing machine.  Fortunately, they delivered it back to the boat for us.  Barb had become totally frustrated with the erratic behavior of her old machine and so decided it was time for a new and improved one.  She has since undertaken many projects and is thrilled with the machine.  As we mentioned in a previous log, we decided to make the flags for the Caribbean instead of buying them.  That was after looking at the prices of the ready-made ones, and after hearing how easy they were to make from a salesperson at Blue Water Books in Ft. Lauderdale.  Not one of our wiser decisions.  The new machine has certainly helped with the effort but it has been a very time-consuming project for both of us.   I have spent many giddy hours drawing on the appropriately-colored swatches of nylon the patterns for said flags and then cutting them out with a hot knife.  Can you imagine anything more thrilling?

We left Annapolis (8/1) during the heat wave that covered much of the eastern United States.   Courtesy of the former owners of our vessel, by which I mean it was already installed when we purchased her, Tusen Takk II sports a fancy multi-functioned "Radio Controlled Weatherstation", which among many other things, displays both the indoor and outdoor temperatures.   We knew it was HOT, when the indoor unit ceased to display of the outdoor temp.  Not enough digits, apparently, an hypothesis rendered credible by the fact that we then placed a simple digital thermometer out on the cockpit (the rear deck, for you landlubbers) in the shade and it soon registered 99 degrees!

As we passed by the creek where live Bill and Peggy Bree, folks we met at Delegal Creek Marina in Savannah, we gave them a call via cell phone.   Bill invited us in to share his dock space and dock power, the better to run an air conditioner on board.   We squeezed into the dockage, but alas, could not get the power to work.   Since his beautiful little cove was blocking what little cooling wind there was, we thanked him for his hospitality and continued back on up the Severn.   (We later got together with him back in Annapolis, where we continued our efforts to educate him concerning the joys of sushi.)  Found a pleasant little anchorage at Little Round Bay, where we baked in the sun for several days but enjoyed some downtime.  We did get some relief from the heat by swimming; we learned later that when it gets too hot, the jelly fish seek cooler water at deeper depths.   Good thing we didn't do any deep diving!  We did find time to read a number of books and to continue to sharpen our Sudoku skills.  We recently discovered in the Sunday Washington Post a new Sudoku puzzle called Samurai Sudoku which consists of five overlapping Sudokus.  A real challenge and lots of fun.

And that brings us to another one of those afore-mentioned boating pleasures.  Maintenance.  Barb had been after me to service the windlass, described in the manual as requiring service every six months.   We had had the boat for almost a year and a half, and had never serviced it.   This, not only because I sometimes exhibit a very slight tendency toward procrastination, but also because the manual made the servicing procedure sound complicated and fraught with opportunities, to use a technical term, to screw up.   But the windlass was beginning to make horrible screeching noises, which I must say hardly bothered me at all, since I am on those occasions ensconced in the pilot house, but that caused Barb, who is out on the foredeck at the controls of said windlass, considerable embarrassment.  So Barb booked some time with Bob Campbell, who besides being the LINK/Xantrex inverter/charger expert for the area, is also the Maxwell windlass guru.  So we returned to Annapolis and settled into Horn Point Harbor Marina, where Bob did the service while I watched over his shoulder, and learned that the manual had made a simple task only sound complicated.   From now on, subject of course to any delays caused by any of my very slight tendencies, I'll do the service myself.

The next day we were walking from Horn Point to Fawcett's when who should drive by but Randy and Cindy Pickelmann.   They had driven up from Solomons in order to have lunch and also visit Fawcett's.   They were kind enough to offer us a ride, and we joined them for the Fawcett visit and for lunch. 

Departing from Horn Point relatively late, we discovered Whitehall Bay, a nice little anchorage just north of Annapolis.   Too far for a dinghy ride, perhaps, but perfect for "staging" before or after a visit to the city.   There were two Krogens at different docks in the creek.

Then (8/5), on down to the Choptank, where we anchored off in Le Tempe Bay for a night, before going on in to Hyatt Rivermarsh Marina, associated with the luxurious Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, for our 24th wedding anniversary.  Spent three glorious days swimming, using the exercise facilities at the hotel, dining, shopping and relaxing.  When we left (8/9) we were not sure where we were headed, so we just anchored along the northern shore a bit southeast of Reeds Creek.  

The next day a quick consultation with the guidebooks led us to a small cove by the name of Martin Point, on La Trappe Creek just off the Choptank River.  It has a nice beach, in the form of a sandy spit, at low tide.  The whole cove is scenic and marvelously protected.  We enjoyed the anchorage so much that we spent a week there.  I put three coats of varnish on the cap rails, Barb finished sewing the many Caribbean flags, and we both read more books.  Barb was afraid we would never slow down enough to relax and read, so she's been pleased with the slowing of  pace.  The handsome farm home on the point turned out to be a rental property for vacationers.   While we were there, a friendly collection of six siblings and their spouses and offspring were renting the place for a week-long reunion.   They readily granted me permission to use their dock so that I could get to shore to run, and I also joined them for a bonfire on the beach on our last night there.  We later learned (from Willie, see below) that the place is rented for a week every year for use by the cast of a popular television soap opera. 

On a run, I passed driveways with signage indicating the pedigrees of the associated estates.   Hampden, 1663.  Beauvoir, 1663.  Later, we saw Beauvoir from the water, courtesy of Willie, a trotline crabber.   After crabbing near us for several days, he approached our vessel and asked if we would like to accompany him on a couple of passes down his trotlines.   Wow, would we!   So, we hopped aboard and solidified the things we had so recently learned by reading Michener's Chesapeake and Warner's Beautiful Swimmers -- Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay.   Willie was running two lines, roughly parallel, each about 2/3 of a mile long, so that he didn't have to waste time going back to the beginning to start another run.   Instead, he would run down one and then back up the other.   This, he continued from early morning until shortly after noon.   Then, back to his slip to sell his crabs.   He reported that he got $70 a bushel for his Jimmies (male crabs), and 45 cents a piece for the crabs that would soon be molting, and were thus destined to be consumed as softshell crabs.   

What is a trotline, you ask?   A long line with multiple pieces of bait attached.   Willie had his baits attached at what looked to be about every two feet, maybe three.   Warner says the premium bait is eel, but Willie used what has been described as second best:  cut up pieces of cow nose and lips.   Willie called it "veal".   Chicken necks, by the way, are scorned by all but the most desperate of trotliners, because they don't last long enough.   "Veal", Willie says, will last for three or four days before needing to be replaced.  To run a trotline, the captain approaches the float marking the weighted end of the line, and then uses a boat hook to grab the line and lay it over a bar protruding out from the gunnels perpendicular to the hull.   Cruising down the line causes the section of line nearest the boat to rise up over the bar, whereupon the captain scoops -- with a net on a pole -- any crabs that have attached themselves to the bait.   They tend to let go as the bait is raised near the surface, so the captain must be quick and focused.   The "net" is wire rather than string, because the caught crab tends to get tangled in string, and there isn't time to untangle before the next bait (and crab?) appear on the line.

Willie's boat was a bit, um, ramshackle.  But nevertheless he had two important improvements over the traditional fittings that have been employed by watermen for so many years.   First, he had a gizmo that would automatically take up and coil the trotline when the final run was to retrieve the line rather than harvest crabs.   Secondly, and Willie says this device has only been available for the last six or seven years, a stainless steel basket on a hinged arm, which when lowered runs under the surface and immediately aft of the bar that raises the line.   So Willie didn't have to employ the net on the pole!   At the last minute the crabs let go of the bait, but are swept into the steel cage and on into the heavy netting at its rear, where they are pinned by the force of the oncoming water.   At the conclusion of a run, the basket is raised and rotated over the wide gunnels and the crabs are emptied and roughly sorted by being tossed into an appropriate bushel basket.   And that is why, freed from the net on a pole, Willie could find time look up from his line and admire our boat, and could notice that we were staying awhile, and could hatch the idea of offering to give us a ride.  And that is how we came to be the beneficiaries of a baker's dozen of prime Jimmies, and came to meet a friendly crabber named Willie.   And those, my friends, were true boating pleasures.


We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Rivermarsh Marina the weekend of our 24th anniversary

Enjoyed the pool at the Hyatt

Chuck enjoying the amenities of the Hyatt

And more

Barb working on her Caribbean flag project

Farm buildings at Martin Point on La Trappe creek

Evening sunset at Martin Point Cove

Rental house at Martin Point

Raft up of seven boats on Saturday at Martin Point Cove (over 30 boats were in the small cove that day)

Crab boat and "Beauvoir" plantation house

Beauvoir Plantation

Crabber Willie in crab boat Hot Pursuit

Chuck getting an education from Willie

Inside of crab boat -- note trotline coiler in upper right corner

"Veal" lips and bits of nose used as bait by Willie

Willie and Barb

Catch from cage after one run

Enjoying our gift of crab from Willie