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Havre De Grace to Baltimore 9.26.2017

One of the reference books I have with me is a book written by a couple from Cleveland who took this same trip some years ago. They stopped at Havre De Grace after going through the C & D Canal – so I suggested we take a look.

First – the C&D was pretty uneventful – no commercial traffic but lots of pleasure boats. Both Bob and I got a chance to snooze. We thought we would be running with the current the entire way but ended up only having the current with us the very last portion of the run.

Harve De Grace is situated at the northern end of the Chesapeake and you have to go about 7 miles off the bay through a fairly narrow channel to get there. We asked ourselves a few times – why are we going so far off the beaten track? We got there and discovered that the mooring balls did not have pennants attached. Pennants are like a dock line used to attach the boat to the ball. In our (still limited) experience, mooring balls normally have a pennant attached. Our boat deck sits 5 feet off the water and with a boat hook you can usually pick up the pennant - and if long enough, can simply attach it to the bow cleat. If there is not a pennant, you have to reach down 5 feet and put a line through a metal ring attached to the ball. This is not easy even in the calmest of conditions.

We tried the capturing method four times (throwing a long line around the ball rather than through the ring) before giving up. Then I tried with a boat hook – couldn’t do it. Then Sylvain, the French Canadian that came over with us from Delaware City came out in his dinghy and took the line and put it through the ring and gave it back to me. He was my hero!! The other couple we are cruising with backed up to the ball and put the line through the ring from their swim platform. We may try this approach next time if the need arises again.

We spent two nights on the ball and one day exploring the town. The marina had a courtesy car that they let us use for free – this was a nice surprise. We walked the town and visited a few antique shops, a great ice cream and chocolate shop, and then took the courtesy car to a grocery store and to see the historic lighthouse. The light house is at the tip of the town and situated in a beautiful park.

See us peaking out of the lighthouse?

Dinner was at the local fish restaurant that came highly recommended. Although the restrooms were not very clean, the food was great. Mrs. Greenwald z”l, this time you were wrong - she always said clean restrooms were the key indicator of a good restaurant . We dinghied back to the boats and had a peaceful night. The best part of the day was finding out that Karen Allenick passed her social work license exam. Karen we are very proud of you!!!

Bob keeps lamenting about having bought a 6 hp engine instead of a 9.9 hp for the dinghy. We went with the 6 hp because it is lighter, easier to handle, we thought we would be able to go on plane and that it would be less likely to be stolen. We don’t go as fast as the Loughboroghs with their larger engine, but it does the job. He’s coming to terms with it.

Next morning we were off to Hart-Miller Island, more than halfway to Baltimore. We anchored on the west side of the island, which gave us protection from all but a northerly wind. This was one of the hottest days we have had since the trip began and the first thing we did once the anchor was down was jump in the water. It felt so good – we swam with lines streamed out behind the boat with a floating pillow on the end. This gave us something to hold on to so that we wouldn’t be carried away by the current. Not sure exactly how long we were in the water but my fingers were rippled when we got out. Having cooled off, we sat on the cabin top reading, having a beer and watching the sunset. It was a special moment that I wanted to box away so that I could pull out later when things were not going so well. We had a relatively peaceful night although the wind did pick up from the north, which caused a bit of bouncing. I like a little bounce while we are sleeping.

The next morning we took off through a very a narrow channel, back into the bay and off to Baltimore. Having navigated the channel, we discovered the path back to the main channel was a mine field with crab pots, not all of which were marked with flags. Unfortunately, in trying to avoid one we hit another which stopped the boat abruptly. Bob backed up and we got ourselves loose, but are not really sure if we did any damage. We motored off okay but the idle seemed to set itself lower than it should have. When we pull the boat to replace the shaft seal, (which has a slow leak when we are motoring) we will be able to see if anything is wrong.

The entrance to the Baltimore harbor was interesting and reminded me of Cleveland, with a mixture of commercial and pleasure traffic. As we motored in, a coast guard boat came up to us and informed us that we were going to be boarded for a safety inspection. I had had an emotional morning – which I will explain later and this was just icing on the cake.

The coast guard officers could not have been nicer. Two came on Board while two others kept their boat alongside ours. The officer asked to see the life jackets, fire extinguishers, the head, required placards and a variety of other things down below. They asked for certain documentation of ownership both for the main boat and the dinghy. We were able to show them everything they asked for plus more and they were very happy to give us a clean bill of health with no violations or warnings. Apparently, the Baltimore harbor is well known for boardings and inspections - they had already done 1300 inspections during this summer.

The inspection delayed us in getting to Baltimore and we were in a hurry to get to the West Marine store to pick up a replacement for our battery charger – Bob had noticed that even though we were running the generator while anchoring we were not adding any charge to the batteries. This was upsetting because the generator was our only way of recharging the batteries other than running the engine. It is not good to run the engine if you are not going anywhere and the engine uses much more diesel than the generator. When Bob took the fuse out to make sure it was okay we saw that the fuse and the fuse holder had melted!! After several phone calls for advice, Bob deduced that a faulty battery charger was the culprit.

After we finally had refueled at the marina and got to our dock in the Baltimore inner harbor, we found out that the West Marine store was on the same grounds as a sister marina to the one we were staying at. We could have stopped the boat at that marina on the way into the harbor. Oh well. Since the other marina was only a short distance away, we decided to dinghy over. It turned out to be a fun ride.

While at the West Marine, Bob had a LONG conversation with an electrician who was shopping in the store and he gave Bob some advice as to how to replace the battery charger using a larger fuse- 50 amp fuse instead of 40 amp fuse. He gave Bob his card and said he was available for advice while he was working on the charger (and heading down the coast) if needed – he could not have been nicer.

When we got back to the boat – Bob started in on the charger project. I want to say how proud I am of Bob and how despite the boat issues we have had, he has kept a cool head and attacked each problem one at a time. It took the rest of the day, but the charger is now replaced, the fuse upgraded and we are back in business. We can again anchor or moor without a battery charging issue.

Our first full day in Baltimore started with a grocery shopping trip for me and Karen. We took one of the free buses that get you around Baltimore, stopped at Starbucks for coffee and then went grocery shopping. We Ubered back to the boat, made lunch and then we all four went off to explore. We spent most of the afternoon at the aquarium (not cheap) – which I loved. The display on jelly fish was particularly interesting. They had jelly fish, rays and horseshoe crabs you could touch. I learned that the large number of horseshoe crabs shells that we had seen on the beach in Cape May were probably from molting. We also saw Archer Fish that spit at insects, causing them to fall into the water to be eaten. The docent did a great demonstration with crickets. Still in the inner harbor we enjoyed happy hour at Phillips, which had live music. After a look in the local Barnes and Noble, we took a bus to the Federal Hill area and had a lovely dinner.

jelly fish at the aquarium

A dangerous jelly fish.

Jellyfish art in the lobby area.

Bob and I will be staying in Baltimore so that we can go to synagogue for Yom Kippur. It is an expensive decision as the docks in the inner harbor are expensive but it puts my mind at ease about the holiday. Happy New Year to all our friends and hope you have an easy fast.

Baltimore inner harbor from the docked boat early in the morning. Note all of the huge power boats.

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