We “B” Gammin’

So what have been doing for the past 4 days? We B Gammin’. And having too much fun to stop and write!  We registered to attend the Seven Seas Cruising Association GAM here in Maryland.  We had attended one by land in Essex, Connecticut in June. As explained on their website – the SSCA  “was founded in 1952 in Coronado, California and was based on a single idea—that cruising sailors, both local and abroad, enjoy hearing from and about each other and that their experiences and discoveries can benefit all. From the start, the focus of SSCA was for members to share cruising information by sending letters about their experiences to the Commodores’ Bulletin, to recommend others for membership, and to ‘leave a clean wake’ so that others who follow will be warmly welcomed. Thus the Clean Wake Policy has been an integral part of SSCA from the beginning. The intention to go cruising, whether locally or worldwide, was extremely important to the membership.”

We were not sure what gam actually stood for; was it an acronym, a noun, a verb?  Google to the rescue again – the dictionary‘s definitions for gam are:

  • reference to the shapeliness of a woman’s leg
  • a social visit or friendly conversation at sea or ashore especially between whalers or seafarers
  • a herd of whales or a social congregation of whalers, especially at sea
  • to hold a visit, especially while at sea
  • to spend (time) talking or visiting

I’m sure you can see which of these definitions is related to the SSCA use of the word gam! The official SSCA definition is: “In days of olde, when whaling ships encountered one another in calm seas, they would heave to and the crew would line up at the railing to shout news across to one another. This was called a gam. An SSCA Gam is a get-together of members, with the emphasis on camaraderie and sharing of cruising information.”

The multi-day gam began with a “going south” dinghy raft-up on Thursday, September 25th. For our landlubber friends and family, this means that everyone gathers in their dinghies, ties them together, and passes appetizers from dinghy to dinghy. The purpose of this dinghy raft-up was to share knowledge and experiences about cruising south through the ICW and to the Bahamas. This should be very helpful for newbies like us. It was, and it wasn’t. By the time it was over, I was more scared than ever!! Not to worry, by the time the weekend ended, I was back on track and feeling a lot better!!

Approaching the dinghy raft-up

Approaching the dinghy raft-up

View of a dinghy raft up from above - thanks to Dave T from S/V Sans Cles

View of a dinghy raft up from above – thanks to Dave T from S/V Sans Cles

On Friday, we dinghied over to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) – The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) leads the Nation in research on linkages 
of land and water ecosystems in the coastal zone and provides society with knowledge to meet critical environmental challenges 
in the 21st century.

SERC’s education department is committed to expanding society’s environmental literacy. I felt right at home when a school bus delivered a group of children to the center. We hiked the Java History trail which combined historical and environmental education.

Hiking the Java History trail at SERC

Hiking the Java History trail at SERC

Combining history, and environmental science while hiking

Combining history, and environmental science while hiking – tobacco barn, Indian camp, wading boots and seining net

The gam’s location was the YMCA Camp Letts, in Edgewater, in a lovely spot here on the Rhodes River. This first official day of gam included two seminars (one on towing/salvage and the other on communications from phone and email to wifi and SSB radio.) A potluck cocktail party set the stage for meeting and getting to know other cruisers.

YMCA Camp Letts on the Rhode River, Edgewater, MD

YMCA Camp Letts on the
Rhode River, Edgewater, MD

Another Morgan sailboat was anchored nearby us, Magnolia, very similar in design, a “sister” ship. Al has corresponded over email, and we were delighted to meet Magnolia’s crew in person. Over the weekend we were able to spend time with Anthony and Annette, talking about our Morgans, visiting and touring each boat.

Two Morgans at anchor - Magnolia and Kindred Spirit

Two Morgans at anchor – Magnolia and Kindred Spirit

Saturday was a busy day! It reminded me of the many math education conferences I have attended over the years – really! We both attended seminars and learned about fine-tuning anchoring skills, voltmeters, rigging, cruising sail trim, provisioning, weather, the Exumas, and the ICW.

Camp Letts provided a  delicious dinner buffet, and we had a wonderful time with our new friends. We shared stories, hopes & dreams, and much laughter. We hope and look forward to seeing them again as we all travel south to the Bahamas.

~Anthony & Annette from Magnolia ~ Us from Kindred Spirit ~Cheryl & dudley from Blind Date ~ Frank & MaryMarie from Eleanor Q

Top photo, from left to right:
~Anthony & Annette from Magnolia
~ Us from Kindred Spirit
~Cheryl & Dudley from Blind Date
~ Frank & MaryMarie from Eleanor Q

A highlight of the gam was the keynote speaker, Beth Leonard, who shared her own “cruising treasures.” I had read one of her books, Horizons, and was eager to meet her and to hear her speak. Beth and Evans Starzinger, have lived aboard their boats, Silk and Hawk, and completed two circumnavigations. She speaks and writes so eloquently that you can feel the inspiration radiate from her.

~Hawk with Evans ~Hawk at anchor in the Rhode River ~ Beth Leonard.. .and me!

~Evans on Hawk
~Hawk at anchor in the Rhode River
~ Beth Leonard.. .and me!

We were able to reconnect in person with our SYC friends, Sue and Dave on Sans Cles. We have been texting and emailing during our respective trips, but it was so nice to finally be in the same place at the same time. We met so many wonderful people this weekend; people of all ages, in all stages of life, from many places, and with different histories; but all with a common passion – sailing and cruising. I’m glad we joined the SSCA.

Tomorrow morning we will leave the Rhode River and cross over to the Eastern shore to spend some time in this beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

One last photo to share, from our morning ride around the anchorage —

Stray Cats with ....dogs?

Stray Cats with ….dogs?

 

Baltimore, Maryland

We departed Chesapeake City on Monday afternoon, saying goodbye to our new friends, Michele (yes, with one L) and Joe on The Simple Life. We shared the dock together and they are going southward as well. Hope to see them again sometime! We caught a good current and were able to travel farther than expected.

Watch out for those crab pots!

Watch out for those crab pots!

Chesapeake Bay – this northern part of the Bay was very quiet.  The most common sight throughout the Chesapeake is …….. yes ! You are right! Crab Pots!! We swerved through and dodged around many crab pots. Good thing we have practice from our New England lobster pots. It became my personal challenge to try and photograph as many as I could (for awhile). A challenge because the boat is moving forward and up and down and the camera zoom needs a little more time and steadiness. Below is my crab pot collage.

Crab pot collage

Crab pot collage

We spent that night in Rock Creek, just off the Patapsco River which leads to Baltimore.  48 miles and 6 hours from the C& D Canal. We were up and ready the next day to make the 11 mile run into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Once again we were in a city atmosphere with industry surrounding the water. Although there were tankers, cargo ships and tugs, I will spare you more photos of them! My favorite sight was the special ceremonial buoy that marks the location where Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner during the War of 1812. He witnessed the British bombardment of Fort McHenry where the Key Bridge now stands.

Ceremonial buoy marking the spot where the Star Spangled Banner was written

Ceremonial buoy marking the spot where the Star Spangled Banner was written

The city of Baltimore with its many marinas

The city of Baltimore with its many marinas

As we rounded the bend, look who else is here! Our very own Mystic Whaler from Connecticut.

Our own Mystic Whaler is here in Baltimore

Our own Mystic Whaler is here in Baltimore

We treated ourselves to a fancy dock so that we could do our necessary chores – fill up with diesel, pump out the you-know-what, fill the water tanks, do laundry, and take long, hot, standing showers with someone else’s water!  We met really nice people on the dock and shared stories and plans.

Kindred Spirit at the Inner Harbor marina

Kindred Spirit at the Inner Harbor marina

In all, we only spent about 26 hours in Baltimore. What did we do beside our housekeeping chores? We walked around the Inner Harbor –

The view across the harbor

The view across the harbor

Dragon paddle boats - now that's a different style for traveling around on the water!

Dragon paddle boats – now that’s a different style for traveling around on the water!

Cool fountains and sculptures

Cool fountains and sculptures

We spent some time in the American Visionary Art Museum, the official national museum for self-taught, intuitive artistry. The art has been created by farmers, housewives, mechanics, retired folk, the disabled, the homeless, and a neurosurgeon. The definition of visionary art captured my attention – “everybody dreams, but our dreamers don’t go to school to learn how to express their visions. Visionary artists are self-taught, intuitive people who find their own way into making of art in an intensely personal way. Visionary art dances on the edge.”

I have only photos of the some of the outside art because no photos are permitted inside. If you are ever in Baltimore, you must visit here.

American Visionary Art Museum ~Nancy Josephson's mirror mosaic Gallery-A-Go-Go bus ~The Community Mosaic Wall behind the bus is the work of at-risk youth ~Be Wilson's Meditation Chapel made form driftwood ~Whirligig by Vollis Simpson ~Ted Ludwiczak's Stone Fountain Heads

American Visionary Art Museum
~Nancy Josephson’s mirror mosaic Gallery-A-Go-Go bus
~The Community Mosaic Wall behind the bus is the work of at-risk youth
~Be Wilson’s Meditation Chapel made form driftwood
~Whirligig by Vollis Simpson
~Ted Ludwiczak’s Stone Fountain Heads

Our dinner of steamed crab, shrimp and sausage

Our dinner of steamed crab, shrimp and sausage

Baltimore Harbor at night

Baltimore Harbor at night

It was time to move on again, so Wednesday afternoon we headed back out the Patapsco River, again passing the industrial side of a harbor city. We saw more traffic this trip than on the previous days.

Twin tugs on their way to guide a big ship into the harbor

Twin tugs on their way to guide a big ship into the harbor

Cargo ships coming and going

Cargo ships coming and going

And that's what a cargo ship looks like when it passes very close to our little Kindred Spirit

And that’s what a cargo ship looks like when it passes very close to our little Kindred Spirit

Once out in the Bay, we passed more crab pots, lighthouses and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

The Chespeake Bay Bridge looms ahead of us

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge looms ahead of us

 

~Sandy Point Lighthouse ~Thomas Point Lighthouse ~Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse ~Baltimore Light

~Sandy Point Lighthouse
~Thomas Point Lighthouse
~Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse
~Baltimore Light

 

Delaware Bay to Chesapeake City, MD

Previously, on Kindred Spirit, the crew had decided to arise early on Friday and head up the Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. And that is just what we did. In the dark, at 4:42 am, we pulled up the anchor and left Cape Henlopen (Lewes, DE). Over the river/bay, and through the canal, to Chesapeake City we go…….

My knees did not shake this time as we maneuvered out of the anchorage into the bay entrance. The moon was still quite full and provided a beautiful lightness to the darkness. Even so, we are grateful to have the AIS system along with radar, especially in a waterway with so many tankers and barges.  By 6:15 am, we had the moon on our portside and the glow of early dawn on our starboard side.  The sun rose right on schedule at 6:46 am.

Sunrise on starboard side with the full moon still shining on port side - worth a kiss!

Sunrise on starboard side with the full moon still shining on port side – worth a kiss!

Once we were into the Delaware Bay, the current really gave us a boost. Sails were also hoisted to help out the engine.  Without straining we were able to do 7.5-8 knots consistently, and later in the day, 8-8.8 knots.

Sailing up the Delaware Bay

Sailing up the Delaware Bay

There aren’t many sights along the Delaware Bay and River. It just isn’t that attractive. The water is muddy looking even when it is 50 feet deep. And those tankers are BIG! The photos are mostly tankers, barges, and tugs, with a few lighthouses thrown in.

All shapes and sizes of vessels

All shapes and sizes of vessels

 

Two of the lighthouses marking the shallows along the eastern shore of the Delaware Bay. The top one, Ship John Shoal, seems to be the most notable.

Two of the lighthouses marking the shallows along the eastern shore of the Delaware Bay. The top one, Ship John Shoal, seems to be the most notable.

A late morning Dove chocolate (yes, we do indulge before noon) gave me a message – “Renew your sense of discovery.” A later chocolate (yes, it was a two-chocolate day) went even further, “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” I admit that at times, the trip has seemed to be overwhelming now that it has finally begun, but I will listen to these chocolate encouragements.

Dove chocolate wrapped in timely messages. Now hanging in the galley.

Dove chocolate wrapped in timely messages. Now hanging in the galley.

As we neared the C& D Canal, we saw the Salem Nuclear plant. I took a photo. Not exactly what I had in mind for scenic beauty, but it is part of the trip.

Salem Nuclear plant on the Delaware Bay/River

Salem Nuclear plant on the Delaware Bay/River

Then came the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal! When you time the trip right and get the current in the right direction, the C&D Canal is an easy ride.  There are bridges, there are barges and tankers, there are homes, and there are more bridges.  All of which we were able to pass under quite easily.

Entering the C&D Canal

Entering the C&D Canal

A more interesting bridge - the only remaining Railroad "lift" bridge

A more interesting bridge – the only remaining Railroad “lift” bridge

At 1:30 pm were settled in the tiny anchorage of Chesapeake City, Maryland on the south side of the Canal, near the western entrance. 9 hours and 64 miles for the day’s trip.

Chesapeake City, just off the Canal - a nice little anchorage

Chesapeake City, just off the Canal – a nice little anchorage

Kindred Spirit peacefully at anchor here

Kindred Spirit peacefully at anchor here

We knew we would be here for a few days so that we could visit with children and grandchildren. That afternoon we took the dinghy to shore to walk around. What a nice little place!  Very charming and scenic with more to do than one would expect -shops, parks, live music and our first taste of Maryland crab. 🙂

~Scenes around the town

~Scenes around the town

Just had to try the ice cream at the Canal Creamery! Yummy!!

Just had to try the ice cream at the Canal Creamery! Yummy!!

On Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast onboard, we went to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Museum.  A self-guided tour, it was very informative and interesting. The canal was opened in 1829 but the idea of a canal to connect the two bodies of water (Chesapeake and Delaware Bays) was first proposed in the1600s. It did not become a reality until 1822.  Times were different then – 2600 men dug and hauled the dirt for an average daily wage of 75 cents. It was originally 14 miles long, 10 feet deep, and 66 feet wide with 4 locks. Fast forward to today — after many projects over the years to improve the canal, it is now 14 miles long, 450 feet wide, and 35 feet deep, no more locks. Vessels over 800 feet long (that’s 20 times larger than Kindred Spirit) are permitted to transit the canal, which saves them 300 miles compared to going around and up the Chesapeake Bay.
Al looking at CD Canal MuseumC&D Canal Musem

We walked around town again, exploring more shops and antique spots that we had missed yesterday. An interesting tidbit of information — the houses were often built from the locally milled lumber but also from barges that were too large to complete the trip through the canal.  During a recent renovation project, a homeowner discovered an old wooden rudder inside of a wall that was used as support for the structure.

~The Blue Max Inn - notice the "man" hanging above the sign? ~ another lovely street ~ A former bank turned into a jewelry store

~The Blue Max Inn – notice the “man” hanging above the sign?
~ Another lovely street
~ A former bank turned into a jewelry store

Artists were everywhere painting scenes of the town. We learned that it is “Paint the City” weekend. Local artists have two days to create a piece of artwork, all of which are displayed at the Town Hall on Sunday.

"Paint the Town"

“Paint the Town”

On Sunday we also had a special treat – visitors!! Alicia and Shawn, with Aaron and Ella, came to visit us for the afternoon. Chesapeake City has a free dock for 24 hours so we moved over to it.

~ Dinghy ride with Dad and Papa ~ A family portrait ~ Aaron in the bosun chair ~ Papa & Aaron and Nana & Ella

~ Dinghy ride with Dad and Papa
~ A family portrait
~ Aaron in the bosun chair
~ Papa & Aaron and Nana & Ella

Chesapeake City was a very nice little town and harbor – glad we stopped here! Tomorrow we will head out again, into the Chesapeake Bay. Oh, by the way….. we have a new Jetpack wifi device now!