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Destinations

High Cliff State Park

Transient Slips Call  (920) 989-1349

Dining Nearby:
Harbor Snack and Ice Cream Shop, Brat Fry's

Stockbridge Harbor

Calumet County Park System
Self Register at the Harbor
Electrical Slips Available
(920) 439-1008

Dining Nearby:
Harbor Bar Restaurant
920-439-1450

 

Fond du Lac Marina

Operated by the City of Fond du Lac
Transient Slips Available:  920 322-3460
Marina Layout

Nearby Attraction:
Lighthouse Observation Deck

 

Menasha Dock Association

Downtown Menasha.  Transient Slips Available.
Harbormaster on Duty:
920-967-5193

Dining Nearby:
Naut's Landing
920-725-7777

Jim and Linda's Lakeview

Pipe, WI
Great Dining and Docking Available
920-360-3411
920-336-2818

Monday
Nov062017

NNYC Club Cruising in the Chesapeake - 2017 by Ken Friedman

The group on the NNYC Chesapeake Bay Cruise stops for a bite to eat in Cresfield, MarylandOn Sept 29th, the NNW winds were blowing 10 mph with gusts to 22 when we loaded our gear to go sailing.   42 hours and $80 in tolls later, we let go of our mooring ropes for our 5 day, 4 night Chesapeake Cruise.  Those great winds weren't with us.  We routed through downtown Chicago, examining it in detail for 2 1/2 hours before turning onto the tollway.   The tollway has service stops with convenience stores and fast food.  Strangely, they were selling nautical themed blouses, jackets and handbags.  Don Reid never left the tollway, subsisting on McDonalds and burrito, while we ate organic salads while deciding where to purchase $3 snack bars containing exactly one apple and four blueberries and nothing else.   Off-tollway, we hunted down a bar and grill in the foody and beautiful town of Chesterton, Indiana, and a great seafood supper club in Fredericksburg, Maryland.   What the service stops lacked were hotels.  We advise against trying to reserve a hotel while driving.  That hotel which is 15 minutes away can be (and was) 35 minutes away by the time our non-cancelable online reservations were complete.  30 minutes later, we found out that while we could not cancel our reservations, the hotel could and did.  Fortunately, the innkeeper, Nick Patel, so enjoyed meeting someone who could converse in Hindi, he canceled someone else's reservation and gave us their room. All ends well if you are asleep by 8 bells.

 

Cruising in the Apostles is all about navigating the strong winds and deep waters of Lake Superior guided by large islands easily identifiable on tourist maps.   The Chesapeake, not so much.  We used GPS and paper charts to pick our way through narrow channels, expansive shallows and naval firing ranges while McGyvering mechanical systems as required.  We were on the hook in the Apostles, but we had spent 3 of 4 nights on the Chesapeake tied up to marinas with hospitable staff, memorable meals and hot showers.  Arriving at Solomon's Sailing our sign-in included instructions to test the boats systems.  That seemed a bit onerous and our boat briefer didn't insist. Too bad.  Dan McFaul and Rick Slater ended up tracing a water leak to a faulty water supply connection to the faucet/shower head, tracing transitory toilet smells, jiggering the stove propane supply tubes, replacing and taping the pins holding boom to the mast and the clew to the boom, and managing pump-outs. Lesson learned – always go with DIY guys in tow.  The Solomon's sailmaster was so impressed with the sailing resumes of the Walkers and Powleys that he assigned them a boat with a handkerchief-sized, in-mast furling mainsail.  Fully 18” shorter than the mast and the boom, the sail had a beautiful, deeply curved leach.  We still aren't sure if the sailmaster felt the Walker-Powleys were such great sailors they didn't need the sail area or were not-so-great sailors who might get into trouble with a standard sized main.  Perhaps to help us regain our cruising skills, Solomons park their boats stern to dock on a narrow channel.  Leaving the mooring required using a spring line to turn the boat around the piling on the starboard side of our bow while motoring fast enough to avoid the stern hitting the one on the port side of the bow.  Off we went.

 

Don Reid invited his friend George Elliot, who knows the Chesapeake, to advise on navigation.  They planned to head 35 miles SSE to Reed point.  The forecast was light winds from the south, so we ended up heading for Deal Island instead.  After the crossing, George felt the Deal Island anchorage might be too shallow for everyone's comfort. Instead we powered north to the quaintly but accurately named Fisherman’s' Bay.  I was wakened at 7 AM by two fisherman sharing their complaints on Channel 72.  They hadn't seen those sailboats come into the bay and didn't trust them to avoid their nets.  One said they might be lucky.  The other said he had used the last little bit of luck in his pocket at poker the week before.  I joined the conversation and got compass directions for the net, allowing us to motor out the narrow gap between the shallows and the east end.  Several navigational buoys later on, we had enough deep water to raise sail for Crisfield, which has a wonderful marina protected by a narrow channel.  Memo to self, do not hold crew meetings while navigating narrow channel by auto-pilot.

We were introduced to Crisfield by Mayor Kimberly Lawson, whose dockside chat could be a TED talk.  Crisfield got on the map as a major supplier of oysters to growing eastern cities during the urban migration of the 1870's.  Before refrigeration, oysters could be preserved in water for two days, time enough time to send millions of bushels a year to cities as far as Chicago and New York.  Cheaper than chicken, oysters were then the preferred protein of the proletariat.  Crisfield's huge marina and many other buildings were funded courtesy, J. Millard Tawes, a governor from Crisfield, and rebuilt by FEMA after Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the town.  Dinner was crab cakes, flounder and other fishy treats served by a young and inexperienced waitress at a local restaurant.   As Paul Ness and Dave Stringham were sitting next to each other, she asked if they were together.  One of them got a sad look on his face and said, no.  They were both gay, he explained, and he had tried to start up a relationship, but so far it was a no-go.  The waitress' face turned a soft shade of pink that went well with the 50's diner décor, while she explained we were the first big group of customers she had served.  Maybe the last.

 

Wednesday featured no discernable wind, so we motored over the Tangier Island, followed the buoys marking narrow east channel for a couple of miles and more or less successfully moored ourselves bow to dock in a 3 to 5 knot cross current. Tangier's population is a dry island, population 450 in 300 households. There are 80 school age children, one of whom was being home-schooled by live-aboard cruisers until she rebelled, insisting she enroll on the Island.  Purchased from the Indians for two overcoats, Tangier was the staging area for the British attack on Ft. McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem.  The main jobs are waterman (fishing, crabbing, clamming), catering to tourists arriving by Ferry or flying into the local airport, teaching and other public service.  There is an amazing amount of traffic on the four roads.  There is no cell service, so we saw at least one teenager go back and forth three or four times to spread the gossip mainlanders would communicate by app. Although some people sport tattoos, they have to go to Crisfield to get them.  Wanting to visit some nearby boats, Scott Powley ran his dinghy across a mud bar.  He got quite a ways before slowing to sticky stop.  Dinner was crab cakes, clam fritters, 4 salads, ham, bread and pound cake served family style.  In the morning, we left by another small channel that emptied not far from a naval firing range.

 

On the last night, everyone made their own plans.  Don Reid opted to return to the Solomons after delivering us all a lecture on how long it might take to sail from the Potomac the following day.  What a challenge!   We opted to go up the Potomac to St. Mary's College which has least 50 boats for its 1800 students and is always a top 10 college sailing team.  We motored up close to the St. Mary Dove, a recreation of a 17thg century Dutch trader and then docked at St. Mary's marina for a stroll around the College, certainly the most beautiful college east of my alma mater, U.C. Santa Cruz.  On departure, we watched a practice race including some of the most beautiful and violently executed roll tacks we had ever seen.  Well, things are bound to look a bit strange before the roll if your mast dips about 45 degrees and you put your gunwale is in the water.  Sure puts power back into the tack, though.

 

That evening we followed a narrow and badly marked channel up to Dennis Point marina and headed for dinner at the local where the two bartenders' marriage was taking place.  We missed the ceremony, but drank some of the best strawberry daiquiris we ever had and enjoyed having our dinner in front of the DJ playing their reception.  The other boats left the Potomac at 7 AM and enjoyed 15 knot winds all the way to Solomons.  We left at 8:30 and sailed in a pleasant 8 knot wind as long as it lasted.  The iron genoa took us home.  After packing everything up, most people left for an early dinner.  Dan and I talked the sailmaster into letting us take a 20 footer out for a couple of hours of “debriefing.”  As winter approaches, there is no sense in missing an opportunity to go sailing.

 

Would I go back?  In an instant, quicker if we could cruise the Chesapeake for a month or so. I wonder if my wife, Sue join me?