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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 —