Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Did It ... We're off!

(originally posted in the Annapolis Capital: October 6, 3:51 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments))

CGEagle9291311 (Seen on the Chesapeake Bay. Really!)

How to begin our trip? It’s like the old adage about a journey of 1,000 miles beginning with a single step. Job #1: Get off the dock! Our friend Debbie Bradley advised us two years ago, leave the dock, even if you only go an hour away, drop the anchor and spend the next couple of days rearranging provisions and sitting in place. At least you began your trip. And two years ago, we took exactly that advise and made it only as far as Knapps Narrows on our first day. This year, we knew we had one good travel day, then wherever we set the hook that night, we’d stay for the next several days due to weather, not preparedness. High winds, chill and rain were predicted. So, we took the good day and motorsailed to Solomon’s Island, about 40 miles along our route south from Annapolis, and prepared to hang out for several days. Besides, we’d never explored the town, this would be our chance.

That first day was a pretty one. We took the dinghy into town and walked around, admiring the quaint buildings. The mental shift from living aboard in one place, and actually cruising from place to place, was well underway. It always startles me, how the way we perceive the places we visit changes when our only means of transportation is human-power. The scale of the town is so different, when we’re walking instead of driving. How many more details we see, at 3 mph instead of 30! (And not having to search for a parking place, that’s pretty nice too!)

We had lunch in a funky little restaurant – key lime pie for dessert, my absolute favorite! – and then spent most of the day at the maritime museum. I love little town museums – the great, in-depth view as they proudly display whatever makes their town unique. So different than the lofty magnificence of the museums in Washington DC, that try to capture the spirit of our entire country. And this local museum didn’t disappoint. My favorite was the chance to explore the renovated Drum Point lighthouse, near-twin to the one at Thomas Point. We met the niece of the last lighthouse keeper, who described visits to “Uncle John” at the lighthouse when she was a young child.

Underway, we saw boats of all types. I’m intrigued by boats that have jobs to do: tugs and barges and container ships and fishing trawlers; as opposed to our pleasure craft. But this, the Coast Guard’s Eagle, was by far the most beautiful one we saw that day.

I wonder about its “job.” Training? Recruiting? The Naval Academy has sailboats too, and their job is not to be stealth warships in an oil-shortage era. You can learn navigation, seamanship, and small-team leadership as well or better on a small sailboat as you can on a power vessel. And most of all, you learn the size and power of the sea.

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Note: My internet is sketchy underway, so I'll post when I can. Bear with me, and eventually things will straighten out when we arrive in Florida for the winter. I'll catch you up on anything I've missed.

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