Thursday, August 23, 2018

First, Baltimore, and then Havre De Grace, Maryland


As we were cruising up the river to Baltimore, we saw the red/white/blue striped buoy that marks the spot where Francis Scott Key was on a British ship while helplessly viewing the battle of Baltimore.  

We heard the story, which I don’t recall ever hearing before.  The British had captured and threatened to execute a doctor from Baltimore.  Francis Scott Key, a lawyer, went out to the British flag ship to plea for the man’s freedom.  He carried letters from British soldiers who had been wounded and treated kindly and skillfully by the physician.  The British admiral received this information favorably and was moved to release the American doctor.  However, he told them that the British fleet was about to attack Baltimore, and so he could not release them until they won the battle and could take the Americans to shore.  That is how Francis Scott Key came to be present, on the British flag ship, for the duration of the battle.  In Fort McHenry, we saw a video who portrayed the moment after the smoke cleared in the morning – Mr. Key was able to see that it was the American flag that flew over the fort, and he was moved to write the words to our national anthem.
Fort McHenry was very interesting – we got a good grasp of what life was like in the Fort and how the Battle of Baltimore was fought.  The British ships couldn’t get close enough to the fort, or to Baltimore, to do much damage.  That was because our cannon balls would have destroyed the wooden ships.  The British ground forces weren’t able to get into the city, partly because their ships hadn’t been able to soften up the target.  Also, the citizens of Baltimore had desperately built earthen works which also contributed to the defense of the city.  The fleet and the ground forces had to retreat!  Yay us!

Our water taxi driver!

entrance to Fort McHenry

view of the fort buildings

walkway inside the fort

Fells Point
We chose to stay at a marina in Fells Point, the oldest part of Baltimore.  Interesting buildings and restaurants – really old cobblestone streets make for challenging walking!  Most of the buildings are 2-3 stories high and very narrow with little or no space between them.  Residences have their front doors right on the sidewalk.  Our marina was Henderson’s.  There are many folks who make their permanent home on their boat in the marina, and many of them have dogs.  We love talking to folks about their dogs and ours.
We had a meal in an Irish pub right outside the marina.  The pub had a dog focus on their interior.  We loved this, especially with our recent loss of our Max.  There were portraits of dogs hanging all around the main room.  Their bathroom doors had an unusual way of designating the male and female facilities…

no guess as to which gender goes here!

Yep, this is for the males!

reminded us of Max, gone to us now

we liked all the dog portraits

from inside the restaurant/ship!

another view inside the restaurant

Fells Point businesssi

residences, very close together!

beautiful church

love this!

pretty Post office

more narrow residences

Our good friend, Paul Foster, spent parts of two days with us.  He has lived in Baltimore all his life, so he steered us to a couple of wonderful restaurants.  One was a fabulous old Italian restaurant – yummm!  The other restaurant was built on a piece of land that was triangular in shape.  Both inside and outside of the restaurant looked like a ship, facilitated by the shape of that property.  Wonderful seafood – of course, being in Maryland, they served crabs!  We chose their special, which included half a lobster stuffed with crab imperial.  Delicious.
Baltimore has a wonderful method of public transportation, the water taxis.  It cost us $5 for a full day’s pass – cool.  We used it to get to Ft. McHenry and also to the Inner Harbor.  The Inner Harbor is really set up for tourists – the National Aquarium is there, several old ships to tour, as well as just about every restaurant you can imagine and lots of shopping.  We didn’t actually tour the ships, because it was too late in the day.  We will be back this way again, and will definitely want to tour those ships.  We chose to pass on the aquarium.  We enjoyed the view of the city from the water taxi. 
While in the Inner Harbor, we noticed LOTS of debris which was in the process of being cleaned up by men with scoops, brooms, and trucks.  There is a trash wheel, also called the ‘trash monster’, that normally ‘eats’ the debris that washes down Jones Falls.  According to the taxi driver, the amount of debris (which was nasty looking!) was very unusual and caused by the heavy rains for the past two weeks.  This should have clued us in to what we were in for as we left Baltimore to continue north on the Chesapeake Bay.  More on that in my next article!

Looking back on our Baltimore visit, we were glad we chose to stay in Fells Point.  The area felt very comfortable, everything close by, not as busy and congested as the Inner Harbor.  We would definitely stay there again!

trash eater in the harbor

view from water taxi

love the name!

cool redo of old industrial buildings

Havre De Grace, Maryland, last stop on the Chesapeake Bay

Before I write about this lovely old town (whose name I still haven’t exactly figured out how to pronounce…!), I have to write about our journey from Baltimore.
I mentioned the gross debris in the harbor in Baltimore, which was washed down from the Jones Falls River and had overwhelmed the trash wheel in the harbor.  Well, that was NOTHING compared to what we faced a few miles up the Bay.  There were entire fields of floating grass, logs (some as large as telephone poles), some logs that looked like big chunks from someone’s firewood pile, lots of large sticks that were partially submerged, plus at least 5 tires!  Good grief.  Made for an interesting day’s cruise.  I was glad Dan was driving.  Sometimes, we could weave between groups of debris, but sometimes, there were fields where the mess went entirely across our path.  All we could do in those instances was go to idle speed or even neutral, trying to just nose the logs aside.  A few times, we heard a dreaded ‘thunk’ on the side of the boat.  We don’t believe anything hit the props, and we didn’t notice any difference in our maneuverability or speed.  Fingers crossed!  As we got closer to Havre De Grace harbor, there was no break at all.  Not to mention, that the channel coming into the harbor is very serpentine with fairly shallow water on either side.  Needless to say, we were very relieved to arrive at the Tidewater marina.  Very nice young men helped us to dock.  Turns out most people arriving that day or the day before had no intention of leaving until the mass of debris went further down the Chesapeake.  This debris was also from the torrential rains up in Pennsylvania.  The Susquehanna River’s dam, a short 2 or 3 miles up the river from Havre De Grace, has 27 flood gates, and they had opened 20 of them!  The towns above the dam had been experiencing high flooding, and those towns were the source of the debris.
Havre De Grace is our last stop on the Chesapeake Bay.  It is another charming older town.  Looking into the history of the town, I found that one big business has been the creation of decoys.  The town is in tidelands and a major stopping place for water fowl.  There is an interesting decoy museum there.  It is also located on a busy rail line.  We had dinner one night at a restaurant in view of the train tracks – there were fast moving passenger trains that passed by every 5 minutes or so!  Not sure, but we thought possibly the trains could be carrying commuters from Baltimore, or even Washington, DC.  Speaking of Washington, DC, one interesting piece of history is that Havre De Grace was one of two locations that Congress, in 1789, considered for the location of our nation’s capital! 
I cannot talk about Havre De Grace and the Chesapeake Bay without mentioning Foster, a fellow looper who lives in the area.  He is an invaluable resource about anything to do with the Chesapeake Bay, whether it be weather or places to visit.  He and Susan were wonderful hosts to us there, ferrying us from the rental car return to our boat, meeting us for dinner in Delaware City.
We enjoyed the Tidewater marina.  Folks were very nice, plus, they had a loaner van that we used at least twice – very handy!
There are a number of challenges inherent in this method of travel, where we are gone from home for weeks at a time and moving around all the time.  One is that I miss my Michigan family so much!  I have had to sacrifice playing golf, having been accustomed to playing three times per week.  I do enjoy playing (mostly badly, with occasional exciting plays!), but I’m doing ok without my weekly golf fixes.  To help with missing the family, Dan and I struck a bargain:  we would spend 6 or so weeks on the boat, and then go home for a 2 week visit.  We have accomplished this – it does help, even though I still miss my family.
The visits home create another challenge in this journey on a boat.  That is figuring out the most economical method for getting home and back!  I’ve described the couple of times we have moved our vehicles from one port to another.  This trip home in my car is the last one, this season anyway, where we will have one of our own vehicles.  We used my car to return home, and will have a one way rental for the return to the Kittiwake.  For the next trip home, we will have cruised the boat to a marina near our home in Michigan!
The other challenge is mail.  We enrolled with a mail delivery service, St. Brendan’s Isle, in Green Cove Springs Fl.  We forwarded all our mail to them.  When they get it, we are notified by email.  We take a look at the picture of the outside of the mail, and decide if we want: a closer look (scan the contents, please); don’t need it (shred it); hold for now; or, send it to a place where we’ll be in a few days.  It has worked pretty well, even with the resulting delay in receiving our mail.  Many of our bills are online or auto pay.  Often, all we need from the piece of mail can be accomplished by the scan.
We had intended to stay at Bohemia Yacht Harbor Marina, where a ‘looper’ friend keeps his boat.  We had several packages mailed there to wait for our arrival.  Unfortunately, turns out they had no space for us at all.  That’s why we ended up at Tidewater, a few miles away.  One use of Tidewater’s loaner van was to make a trip to Bohemia to pick up our packages.  One package, though, some meds for me, never got there.  Oh well, just something to figure out. 
Another use for the loaner van was to acquire a rental car.  We used the rental car to make the 3.5 hour trip down to the Olverson’s marina where we had left my car.  We were able to do that in one day.  Now, we were ready for our trip home!

Checking prices for leaving the boat for two weeks, we learned that Log Pool Marina, literally 50 yards from Tidewater, would save us almost $200.  So, we moved Kittiwake there, tied her up and left for home.

at least the poles are well marked!

another view from restaurant

from restaurant on the bay

inside Tidewater Grille

also from inside the Tidewater

Community Garden

never tire of the view

Geese get busy every day!

morning view

another pretty sunset shot

my favorite sunset picture

morning at the dock

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