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Archive for the ‘Chesapeake Bay’ Category

After a week long wait in the Norfolk area, our patience was finally rewarded with a decent weather window for an outside run from Hampton VA to Long Island Sound. We headed out bright an early on a favorable tide, passing Thimble Shoal Light as we were leaving the Bay.  We also passed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, always a bit weird to know that you’re floating over a stream of land-based traffic.  Seas were calm, but unfortunately so were the winds, so we motored.  Sunday morning/Father’s Day brought another pretty sunrise.

After a weather check Sunday morning, tweaked our plans a bit.  The lack of wind dictated that we make a fuel stop, and a snotty forecast for the southern shore of Long Island the following morning had us deciding to pass on heading for Fire Island Inlet… we’ve done it before, but it’s best in more settled conditions.  Plan B, we’d stop in Atlantic City NJ to fuel up, then head up towards Sandy Hook and plan for a run up the East River to Long Island Sound.

After about 30 hours offshore, Sunday afternoon in Atlantic City NJ was more than a bit crazy. We opted for a stop at Kammerman’s Marina, a family owned and operated place, passing on a property formerly owned by Trump.  I also got some shots of  Absecon Lighthouse on our way into the inlet of the same name.  I’m guessing it was a more effective aid to navigation before Atlantic City was developed.  Still, nice that it’s still standing.

Mike did some calculations and decided that if we wanted to transit the East River through NYC on a favorable tide, we needed to slow our roll.  We were effective in doing so by spending the rest of the afternoon and through the night sailing in very very light winds.  At first light, we finally dropped the sails and fired up the Red Queen.  Romer Shoal Light (NJ) welcomed us to Lower New York Harbor.

We’ve been through the Harbor and East River once before, but in the opposite direction and much later in the day.  This time around we enjoyed a morning run, better light for catching some good photos and thanks to the Captain, our timing at the infamous Hell Gate was perfect.  As on our previous run, I was captivated by the bridges (works of art actually), the varied architecture, and an occasional lighthouse. Lady Liberty and the United Nations building stood as proud as before, but I couldn’t help but think about how much our political climate has changed (and not for the better imho) in the not quite two years since we last saw them.

By shortly after 1300, 55 hours or so after we hauled anchor in Hampton VA, we were on a mooring ball in Port Washington NY on the south shore of Long Island Sound.  This was a familiar spot for us as we spent several days here on our last trip, waiting out Hurricane Hermine which didn’t amount to much up here except to delay us a bit.  It’s quite a cruiser-friendly place with great access to town via two different dinghy docks.  In the day that followed we did laundry, topped off provisions and water, and revisited the yummy Ayhan’s Mediterranean Marketplace.  Arriving literally minutes behind us were Bob and Sandra aboard s/v Carpe Diem who we’d met several years ago in the Florida Keys.  Turns out they’ve done a lot of  sailing in Maine, so it was great to have them share their wisdom over dinner one night.

Next stop: Connecticut, new waters for us.  Stay tuned.

 

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After several days in Reedville, VA, we agreed that we needed to step up the pace a bit.  The Chesapeake Bay is vast, and we could easily spend the summer and years to follow exploring its nooks and crannies, but for now, we need to pick up the pace a bit.

Despite the wind having a more northerly component than was forecast, and the fact that our Cheshire prefers not to go into weather, we managed a nice sail up the Bay, crossing the Virgina – Maryland border mid morning.  Being a Sunday, there were plenty of day-sailors out and about, but plenty of commercial traffic too.  On the ICW, it’s not unusual to see an occasional barge or tug, container ships, military vessels and in Florida especially, even cruise ships.  On the Chesapeake Bay, it seems they’re more plentiful;  thankfully, so is the water we share.

Earlier in the month, coming through Norfolk/Portsmouth, military vessels lined the waterway, and are jaw-dropping big, and consequently difficult to photograph, particularly from a moving boat.  Then there is the occasional cruise ship as well, including this one “sailing” out of Norfolk.

One calm morning, we motored past this Coast Guard buoy tender.

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USCG buoy tender

 

The most curious of all though came shortly after we crossed the Virginia – Maryland line (which is not marked on the water as it is on land, but I always keep track).  On our charts it’s marked as an “exposed wreck”.  Really?  In the middle of the Bay?  And they just left it there?  Of course, I had to do a bit more research.

From a distance it appeared as a dark silhouette, perhaps one of several cargo ships we’ve seen temporarily anchored.  As we got closer, you could see it’s a rusted mess, but still floating?  Turns out it’s not floating, rather was intentionally sunk in this spot… by the US Navy.  Not kidding.  In pretty sorry shape now, this vessel has quite a history.  Meet the American Mariner.

 

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American Mariner, 2016

This vessel started her service life as a Liberty Ship.  I’ve written about them in a previous post a few years back (Liberty Ships of Brunswick GA), these vessels were built specifically for service in WWII.  This one in particular started construction in 1941 as a cargo ship, but before she was finished being built, was converted to a Coast Guard training ship for merchant marines and renamed American Mariner.  She did her time in the war and beyond, active from 1941 until she was parked/placed in reserve in 1953.  In 1958, the Army put in dibs, and she came back into service.  She underwent some serious upgrades, including some fancy hi-tech gear for her new role in the ballistic missile program, followed by some time in the Pacific as part of some nuclear testing with Operation FISHBOWL.  In 1963 she was transferred to the U.S. Air Force and NASA borrowed her for some stretches to help with the Mercury program.  By the mid-1960’s though, she was tired and not needed any more.  In 1966, the Navy took responsibility for her, moved her to her current location not far from Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay and sunk her.  She now sits in the mud and serves as a gunnery target for pilots who fly out of the nearby Patuxent Naval Air Station.  Kind of like a floating (or previously floating) Giving Tree I guess.

I quote Wikipedia: “She appears to have been the only ship to have served in the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy after being built for service with the United States Merchant Marine.”  Find a nicely written piece, including a couple photos from her earlier years here.

Interestingly, our anchorage that night would be just off the PAX Naval Air Station.  Thankfully all of the planes and helicopters appeared to be grounded during our stay.

 

The following day, we were up and out early and spotted this beauty off our starboard side.  She’d have been even prettier I think with full sails up. This tall ship is a full-sized replica of the original ship of the same name, a Dutch-built merchant ship that brought Swedish settlers to North America.  Check out their website here for some history, current events and some photos of her under full sail.

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tallship Kalmar Nyckel

 

We ducked into Harness Creek off of South River, not too far south of Annapolis.  A nearby park complete with dinghy dock gave us a chance to stretch our legs and hit a grocery store.   A relatively short run the next day took us within decent photo distance of a couple of interesting lighthouses, as well as under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  The Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse is a big deal.  The Chesapeake Bay was full of these screwpile lighthouses  once upon a time, but as automation came to the Bay lighthouses and many became unmanned, these structures became victims of neglect and vandalism.  Thomas Point Shoal Light is the only one still in its original location; a few others have been moved and are now museums (including couple that we’ve visited… previous posts/photos here for  Drum Point Lighthouse in Solomons, MD and Seven Knolls Light in Baltimore).  Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse, was apparently not so captivating.  It was auctioned off in 2006 and is now privately owned.

We dropped the anchor early afternoon, partly to avoid some opposing current and mostly to duck out of a nasty thunderstorm.  The upside is we managed to top off our water tanks, and Cheshire always appreciates a fresh water rinse.  Another early morning run put us in Chesapeake City, MD  (more on this spot later) where we’ve taken a lay day. Tomorrow morning we’ll top off fuel and head into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

As always, thanks for following along…

 

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From the Portsmouth/Norfolk area, a two day jump put us near Reedville, VA.  A bit of research told us that this spot would offer some protection from the snotty weather in the forecast, in addition to having a small museum, an ice cream shop and a few seafood restaurants if in fact we were able to get off the boat and do some exploring.

The smallish but well done Reedville Fishermen’s Museum exceeded expectations, and earned bonus points for having a dinghy dock.  Actually, they have a number of restored boats in their collection, so we shared the dock space with some beauties.  They’ve also got some interesting educational displays, primarily about the history of Reedville, which is really about the history of commercial fishing, and not just any fish, rather specifically the Atlantic Menhaden.  But more about that in a minute.

In addition to the historic boats on the dock, a couple of which are on the National Historic Register, there is the “Spirit of 1608”, a replica of the boat that John Smith sailed during his exploration of the Chesapeake.  During our visit, a couple of guys in period garb were telling their tales to a boy scout troop who were visiting.  Out of the water for a couple of years now on a not-so-carefully-disguised trailer, this boat has had some adventures if the volunteers stories were true.  The museum also includes a quite extensive boat shop where volunteers gather at their leisure to build and/or restore boats.  Yet another building boasts a huge model train display, featuring not only a diorama of Reedville, but of some of the surrounding towns as well.  It’s apparently quite the big deal when it’s dressed up during the holiday season.  One gets the impression that more than a few retired folks  spend more than a few hours here.

Also on the property is the Walker House.  Reputed to be the oldest building in Reedville, it has been refurbished and stands as an example of a typical waterman’s home of years ago. This is in comparison to the larger more elaborate homes along so-called Millionaire Row, built in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s by prosperous fishing boat captains and factory owners who apparently did quite well in the fish processing business.  Years ago, these operations were quite numerous.  Today, only one remains, but it’s a big one, and a big deal for this area, and the subject of much controversy.  Omega Protein.

So, Atlantic Menhaden… who knew that this relatively small fish could cause such a stir.  Historians suspect that it was this fish that the Native Americans taught the pilgrims to plant along with their corn crops to fertilize them.  Fast forward to the late 1800’s, Cap’t Elijah Reed arrives from Maine and brings with him a process that’s come to be known as the menhaden reduction.  Not much for eating, these oily, bony fish are processed, or reduced to yield fish oil and fish meal for nutritional supplements, fertilizer and animal feed.  Today, about 80% of Atlantic menhaden are “reduced”; the remaining 20% go for bait for both commercial and recreational fishing.  Apparently there are a lot of bigger fish in the sea (and Bay) that like/depend on menhaden, along with many birds… egrets, osprey, heron and others.   There is also quite a bit written, some of it controversial, about other environmental benefits of a healthy menhaden population; for example, they are filter feeders, and are said to help improve water quality in areas where they are plentiful.

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Menhaden fishing boat, Reedville

The catch process is also a bit unusual.  We watched a short educational piece at the museum, not surprisingly sponsored by Omega Protein, that gave an overview.  Not intended as such, we actually found it a bit disturbing.  Small spotter planes fly about, locating schools of these fish that travel in large, dense slow-moving schools and do quite a bit of splashing about at the water’s surface, apparently easily visible from the air.  The spotters communicate with waiting vessels that include a mother ship (many converted from old military ships) which then launches two smaller vessels.  These smaller vessels then cast  huge purse seine nets to gather them up, at which point the mothership comes aside and literally vacuums them up.  The little buggers don’t stand a chance.  I’m sure I don’t even want to know the rest of the story… what the “reduction” process entails.  Really, truth be told, I should probably be vegan or something.

In past years, menhaden have been plentiful and reduction facilities dotted the Atlantic coast.  Today many believe that menhaden are being overfished, and only one reduction facility remains, Omega Protein in Reedville.  In fact all Atlantic States with the singular exception of Virginia have banned menhaden fishing in their waters.  Another interesting bit… menhaden is the only fish that is not regulated by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, translate: some scientists are involved.   Rather the Virginia General Assembly calls the shots… translate: politicians, who might be influenced by industry-paid lobbyists.  Hmm…

I could go on, but I won’t.  More here for those who might be interested…

National Geographic – “The Good and the Bad for Atlantic Menhaden”

Surf & Adventure – “The Menhaden Controversy” for a bit about recent legislative efforts .

Mondovacilando.com – “Something’s Fishy in Reedville” for another cruiser’s perspective from a couple of years ago… with some most interesting back-and-forth comments.

Conservation Magazine – “The Oiliest Catch” for a long, but very interesting and informative overview.

I will say that we encountered some of the slime and dead fish byproduct of menhaden fishing on our way into Reedville.  Even the seagulls weren’t interested.  And on our way out with the winds having shifted, we experienced the stench that some refer to.  Thank goodness that the winds were favorable during our time anchored in Reedville, because I can promise you would have hauled anchor and left regardless of the weather rather than tolerate the stench.  Seriously.  Several popular ICW spots are near paper/pulp mills, and I’ll tell you, they don’t even compare to the stench that comes off the Omega Protein plant.

The skies cleared before the sea state settled down, so we spent our last day in Reedville doing a bit of dinghy exploring.  We saw plenty of non-menhaden fishing boats, including stacks of crab traps, and some unusually low-to-the water osprey nesting platforms, which made for some nice photo ops.  Lots of chicks this time of year.  Lunch at Cockrell ‘s Seafood and Deli was a bit of a disappointment, but hey, you got to try.

Meanwhile, we continue on up the Bay.

 

 

 

 

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Funny the things you get excited about when you live on a boat.  A few days ago we were sitting outside in shirt sleeves eating oysters and enjoying a pint.  Then it got cold… and rainy… We spent a few days of sailing one day, waiting out some unpleasant (read “small craft advisory”) weather for another, sailing again and occasionally getting rained on.  This morning the sun came out, it warmed up a bit, and a couple of dolphins came out to wish us well.  Really.  Dolphin sightings have been rare to none this summer.  But we’re headed south and I’m very much looking forward to getting reacquainted with my old friends.  This evening I officially put away our Chesapeake Bay charts  and books (thanks for a great summer!) and pulled out the next set… Norfolk, VA to the Florida border.  Should keep us busy for a while.  Tomorrow, weather permitting of course, we head back into the Dismal Swamp and are very excited about it.  Weird, huh.  Stay tuned.

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We left Solomons, MD a week ago with a plan to do a bit more exploring of the southern Chesapeake before we start our journey south.  It’s been a beautiful week, poking our nose up the various creeks of the Rappahannock River, on the Western Shore of the Bay just south of the Potomac.  In the traditional Algonquin, it translates “where the tide ebbs and flows”, and is rumored to be some of the prettiest cruising water on the Bay.

We’ve had glorious weather for our exploring, days mostly sunny and warm, nights cool and comfortable.  We’ve found some really peaceful anchorages, done some gunk-holing by dinghy (my shoulder needs a bit more healing time before we break the kayak out), and wandered about another couple of old waterfront towns.

Up Carter Creek, we anchored off of the tiny town of Irvington, VA.  We spent the afternoon poking around in the dinghy before going ashore at Custom Yachts who had a dinghy dock and reportedly didn’t object to cruisers using it to come ashore.  Sure enough owner John was as nice as he could be, invited us to stay as long as we liked.  It was a short walk into town, and Irvington is not much of a town to be honest.  Apparently it was a big deal years ago, from the mid 1800’s to the late 1930’s, when steamboats were a big deal on the Chesapeake.  There is a Steamboat Era Museum in town, but alas only open 3 days a week, so we didn’t get to check it out.

One of Irvington’s claims to fame though is the famous Tides Inn.  The Tides is a pricey 1940’s-vintage resort, complete with spa, golf course, frisbee golf, croquet, etc, etc.  It apparently came into being to take advantage of the growing popularity of automobile travel.  We took a walk around the grounds just to see what the fuss is all about, and enjoyed gin and tonics overlooking the water with a view of Cheshire.  Fun.  We decided to check out another place for dinner though, Nate’s Trick Dog Cafe.  We had a great dinner off the bar menu including among other things a yummy Oysters Shanghai and Shrimp Matamoras, and made another beer discovery, Small Craft Advisory, an uber pils by Heavy Seas, a Baltimore area brewery.

From Irvington/Carter Creek, we headed for the Corrotoman River, bigger, less developed, beautiful, for a couple of days of what Mike has come to refer to as “boat camping”… those days where we’re a bit more remote and sometimes don’t even get off the boat.  Photos below.

Next stop: Urbanna, VA, which is all about its annual oyster festival, but alas,  the festival is not until next month.  Turns out Urbanna is also very cruiser-friendly.  The town marina has a free dinghy dock, and its a short walk to town which has a grocery, drug store, liquor store, etc.  We stopped in a local gas station that had propane tanks for exchange to ask about who in the area does propane refills.  (We have a couple of 20# fiberglass propane tanks aboard Cheshire which are really nice, but obviously require refilling vs swapping.)  After calling a local campground to confirm that they in fact did do refills, one of the guys at the station offered to give us a ride out to the campground, an offer Mike took him up on later in the afternoon.  Very cool.  We later found that the local marine supply place (walking distance from the marina) also offers propane refills; note to self for next time.  A decent pizza for dinner,  bagels and coffee at a little cafe the next morning and we were on our way again.

We had one last place on our “to do/see” list for this trip…  Rappahannock River Oysters.  While Maryland is all about the crabs, Virginia is all about oysters.  Of course there is some overlap.  We’ve seen many references during our time in the Bay to the Oyster Wars.  Really, it was serious stuff, with oyster pirates and everything.  Apparently in the years following the Civil War, the oyster harvesting industry became huge, particularly in the southern Bay.  When the oyster beds of New England were exhausted, the watermen of that area came south.  Maryland and Virginia watermen were already at it, each trying to guard their grounds all the while their respective governments were trying not only to protect harvesting rights, but to prevent the collapse of the industry due to over-harvesting.  In the end, it was not only over-harvesting, but the declining water quality of the Bay and disease that nearly wiped out the oyster population entirely.  It’s making a comeback, slowly but surely.  If you’re interested in learning more, check out this article.

Interestingly, it’s believed that the oyster itself may help clean up the bay.  Turns out oysters are amazing little water filters; I’ve read that one oyster can filter about 50 gallons of water per day.  Here’s what’s telling… at the end of the 19th century, the oyster population could filter water equivalent to entire Chesapeake Bay in just a few day.  Today’s population…  it would take almost a year to filter the same volume of water.  I could go on for a long while about the challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay, the recovery of recent years, the hurdles remaining, the politics of it all… but that is another post all together, or maybe a few posts.  But I digress.  Back to the oysters…

So, I’d read about  Rappahannock River Oysters, a great story about a couple of cousins who decided to revive their great grandfather’s 100-year-old oystering business and with some twists of their own, are proving to be quite successful.  Check out a bit on Food and Wine’s Tastemaker Awards from a few years back, Oyster Obsessives;  for readers in central OH, Jeni of Jeni’s Ice Cream made the list that year as well.  They’re also going to be featured on a PBS series called Chefs A Field this fall (which would definitely be a favorite if we still had TV).  The episode is called “Olde Salts, Young Guns”.  Check your local listings, or check here for a trailer.

Their oysters are showing up in restaurants far-flung, and they’re even opening a couple of their own, one in DC and coming later this month, one in Richmond, VA.  We went to where it all began though, Merroir, a Tasting Room (sounds like a winery, doesn’t it?); check out their Facebook page here.  Merroir is a nothing fancy old concrete block bait shop turned restaurant.  They do most of the cooking on grills under a tent outdoors, which is also where most of the patron seating is as well, overlooking the water.  We managed to find a place to drop the anchor nearby and took the dinghy in for an early dinner on Saturday.  Those who know me know that I’m not a huge fan of raw oysters; love ’em cooked though.  However,  when in Rome…photo below…  I have to say that while they were tasty, I still prefer my oysters cooked.  That said, we had a very good meal.  Eating oysters seemed nice way to say our goodbye to the Chesapeake for the season.

One more bit… a USA Today article for those who may be planning a vacation in Virginia’s Oyster country.

All in all, we’ve had a great week exploring.  The weather gods have been smiling on us and have had the sails up nearly every day this week.  We even went so far as to dig our spinnaker out of the sail locker and play with it for a bit, first time. I have to say though that although it’s in pretty good shape, I was a bit disappointed to find that its plain white; spinnakers are often bright party-colored affairs.  Today we’re waiting out some weather, and weather permitting, will start moving south in earnest tomorrow.  Good thing too, ’cause it’s starting to get a bit cool up here.

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It’s been a fairly quiet couple of weeks aboard Cheshire.  We spent a day exploring St Mary’s county, just over the bridge from Solomons, including the waterfront towns of Leonardtown (walked a great little waterfront and had yet another crab cake lunch, this time at Kevin’s Kafe) and St Mary’s.  We added another lighthouse to our list… Piney Point, which isn’t as impressive as some of its cousins in the area, but interesting all the same.  Late that afternoon we stumbled on a park commemorating the site of a Revolutionary War era POW camp.

Maryland has an interesting history with regard to the Civil War.  Just south of the Mason-Dixon line and one of the so-called “border states” leading up to the war, the state itself was very much divided in sympathies.  Although it was a slave state, at the outbreak of the war there were almost as many freed blacks as slaves.  While the powers that be fooled around debating about whether or not to secede and join the Confederacy, the Union moved in May of 1861 and essentially occupied Maryland for the rest of the war.  For those interested in more of the story, Wikipedia has more on Maryland in the Civil War.  One of its distinctions was to have been home to one of the largest and worst POW camps in the Union. Officially known as Camp Hoffman but more commonly referred to as Point Lookout, the prison/camp was built in 1863 to accommodate 10,000, but is said to have housed nearly twice that many during most of its 2 years in operation, and under some of the most deplorable conditions.  Click on the link for some really interesting history.  These days the land is occupied by Point Lookout State Park, complete with Confederate POW memorial and cemetery.  As it was late in the day/close to closing time, we opted not to visit the state park itself, but found another interesting spot nearby.

Adjacent to the Point Lookout State Park, the Confederate Memorial Park has quite a story.  It’s a private memorial, conceived, built and maintained by a group of descendants of the camp’s POWs, described as “a place where people can visit to learn of unedited, non revised, no-compromise history”.  Apparently the group had issues with the VA regarding what was going on or not going on next door at the “official” memorial site, among other things over how many actually died at the camp and the flying of the Confederate flag, so they decided to create their own memorial.  Quite impressive actually.  Unfortunately it was too late in the day for good photographs, as least by this photographer.  Check out the website for details.

On a completely different note, we always enjoy having visitors.  This time around it was Team Staats, our friends of more than two decades, who drove all the way from Ohio to hang out with us for the recent Labor Day weekend.  Unlike the previous weekend when it rained and rained and rained some more, this time we had some decent weather.  Or at least it started out that way.  And despite the fairly warm temps, we decided to take them up the Patuxent River where we found another new-to-us anchorage in Island Creek.  We got lucky as the sea nettles aka stinging jellyfish that have been everywhere this summer were no where to be seen, so we were able to get in the water for a swim. Happy Hour topside.  Catching up with good friends.  The rain caught up with us overnight… no big deal as we spent the evening tripping down memory lane with Pandora radio.  The following day brought us calm water again, so we motored back down the river, poked our nose in one of our favorite creeks, the St Leonard, and this time saw cows.  First time I’ve ever seen cows on a beach.  Go figure.  That was a new one in the wildlife viewing category.  Things got real interesting though as we got nearer to Solomons.  A more-serious-than-average afternoon thunderstorm caught up with us.  Thankfully were on the edges of it, so all of the crazy dark skies, rain and lightning were enough to get our attention, but didn’t actually open up on our heads like we feared.  Of course, as soon as we had Cheshire tucked in safely at the dock, it cleared up.  So we headed for the pool.  A very tasty dinner followed later at another new-to-us place on the water called Clark’s Landing… more crab cakes of course.

For those who have been paying attention to the “Find us Now” tab on this blog, you’ll have noticed that except for our “boat camping” weekend with Team Staats recently, that we’ve not been on the move much in the last couple of weeks.  That would be thanks to yours truly, who is officially getting old.  And stubborn.  Seems I’ve developed a case of bursitis in my shoulder over the last few months, and being very stubborn and in denial of getting older, postponed the seeking of medical attention for said shoulder problem.  So now, in addition to bursitis (doesn’t that just sound like an old person’s ailment?) I’ve also been diagnosed with Adhesive Capsulitis, aka “Frozen Shoulder”.  Apparently I injured my right shoulder several months ago, very likely pretending that I wasn’t 50 years old and being more aggressive than needed hauling in an anchor, and after slight injury, favored said shoulder long enough for it to “freeze up”.  Which is very painful by the way.  The good news is that we have the option of being stationary for a bit, we have the car, and I’ve found a very good osteopath who has been inflicting pain aka physical therapy 3x/week for the past couple of weeks, and slowly but surely, I’m on the mend.  Speaking of which, it’s time once again for my in-between-therapy sessions stretching exercises.

Until next time…

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OK, so that’s a title a little all over the map.  I had to share our most recent creature photo though.  For those who expressed concern, there have been no further snake sightings aboard Cheshire.  We did however pick up an interesting hitchhiker though on our way back across the Bay last trip.  I for one have never seen a bug so big.  Thanks to our friend Donna who was able to id it as a Swamp Darner.  He hung with us for quite a while.  Photo below.

Back in Solomons for a bit, we’ve continued with some boat chores with some touristing sprinkled in as well.  The weather finally cooled off a bit to make it all a little more tolerable, thank goodness.  The AnnMarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center had been on my radar for a bit, but I’d been holding off for a particular exhibit that opened just recently, and IMHO, it was well worth the wait.  As with some other places we’ve visited lately, this 30-acre Garden was a gift to Calvert County from a generous couple, an architect/builder/developer out of DC, Francis Koenig and his wife AnnMarie, on the condition that it be developed into a sculpture park.  It’s quite an eclectic place.  In addition to works on loan from the Smithsonian Institute and the National Gallery of Art, serious art if you will, they are also quite known for an annual Fairies in the Garden event, which includes fairy and gnome dwellings by mostly local amateur artists which are scattered throughout the wooded grounds, and other more whimsical exhibitions.  There are also a variety of art classes for the community and it’s a very kid-friendly place as well.  During our visit, there were tons of wee ones wandering around wearing fairy wings.  Very cute.

The highlight though was Marc Castelli’s “The Art of the Waterman” exhibit.  Although new to me, Castelli is apparently a well known artist in the Chesapeake area.  His recent works have focused on the watermen of the Chesapeake, those who live and make their livings on the Bay.  It’s a fascinating culture really, and one that is feared to be headed for extinction;  Castelli has captured it beautifully.  Shortly after we arrived in the Chesapeake, I read a delightful book by William Warner titled “Beautiful Swimmers”, a Pulitzer prize winner of some years ago, an enlightening introduction to the Chesapeake Bay, and everything you could ever want to know about blue crabs and the watermen who make their living catching them.  Castelli’s watercolors provided the visuals for the book for me.  Amazing stuff.  While not the same as seeing his work in person, his website is extensive. On the “past exhibits” page, check out the “view collection” tabs for photos of his work.

And for the less impressive but all my own photos, check these out:

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Until next time…

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