Monday, November 7, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes and Holiday Cheer

This weekend we took what will probably be our last overnight trip of the season and went to Annapolis for the night. The trip down was treacherous. The weather was gorgeous so the waves took us by surprise. There were 4-5 foot rollers in the bay. I actually considered putting on a life jacket. I can't tell you the last time I saw waves like that on the bay. Like I said, it was a really nice day so the sun was shining bright. With the rollers and the sun it was difficult to see the crab pots. Honestly, I think we got lucky.

Once we got to Annapolis we had a great time. It was a little chilly but nice and sunny. It was a busy day in town. There was a Navy home game and there was a tug of war across the harbor. I'm glad we arrived early because they closed Ego Alley and half of the harbor for the tug of war at 11am. The rope stretched across the harbor. We would not have been able to access the city until 1 or 2pm if we had waited. But it sure looked like fun. Don't worry, they didn't let the tug of war pull people into the frigid water.

Annapolis is ready for the holidays:
As usual, we spent some time at Pusser's for college football. I've never noticed these signs before, but how can Montego Bay and Key West be in two different directions from Annapolis? :)Many thanks to our fantastic bartender Jerry. He braved the chilly temperatures at the outside bar with us.

We had one couple meeting us in Annapolis for the night. We had other friends that had spent the night in Annapolis the night before. We met up with them for lunch and convinced them to stay with us too. Apparently, the boat can fit 6 people for the night (our previous record was 5 people). We have ceramic space heaters so it was warm even outside of the cabin for the two people that had to sleep "upstairs."

When we left the next morning, the bay was like glass. I have never seen the water under the bay bridge as calm as it was that morning. Like I said, what a difference a day makes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Reef

The Chesapeake Bay has come a long way, even in the short time that I've been boating here. The water in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore is getting clearer. Crab and fish populations are improving. And now I hear about this new project: New Reef Created in Chesapeake Bay. The article isn't long, but here is a real quick synopsis:

A dam was demolished. Rather than toss all that concrete into a landfill, it was tested for contaminants and broken into small chunks. That concrete is now sitting on the bottom at the mouth of the Chester River as a reef. They plan to seed the area with baby oysters. Let's hope it works!

For my fellow boaters: "Designers worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to build a reef that would not impede vessels." Not bad - trying to save the environment AND considering the desires of humans. I wonder if I should get an upgrade for my boat GPS? While the reef won't "impede" vessels, is it somewhere that pleasure boaters could go in the past? I'm not complaining, I just don't want to be cruising along thinking that the water in front of me is deep enough and CRUNCH! My guess is that signs will be posted for a while until everyone is used to it.

We have a long way to go, but I'm so happy to see steps being taken to fix what we messed up. I hope the baby oysters like their new home.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Newport, Rhode Island

We missed the Annapolis Power Boat Show because we were in New England for a friend's wedding, but we still managed to find some boat fun in Newport, RI. We went to Newport for the Bowen's Wharf Seafood Festival. If you ever happen to be in the area during this free festival, I highly recommend making the time to go. The freshly shucked oysters and hot clam chowder were exactly like I remembered from my childhood (I was born in Rhode Island). We made the smart decision of getting into town about thirty minutes before the festival started. By the time we left Newport, the festival was packed and the exit off the highway was backed up.While at the festival we saw an unexpected reminder of the fact that we were missing the boat show. We only miss the show for really good reasons - like weddings. In total, I believe we've been to 9 of the last 11 shows.
We found a really interesting boat while touring around Newport. I had to take a photo from a bridge and wish we could have gotten closer. Is it a sailboat with the mast removed?I'd like to add Newport to my list of places to live on a boat but think I will have improve my boating skills. Can you imagine navigating between these rocks to get to your mooring ball? Granted, it was a very windy day, and there are also marinas which I assume are easier to navigate, but the Newport boaters must be really comfortable with their boats.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

College Football in Kent Narrows

After many weeks of cold weather, we had a random warm weekend. I'm a little behind on posting, so those of you in Maryland, remember how nice it was a week and a half ago? We sent out an email and had a full boat almost immediately. 10 people can fit on a 3760 for a day trip - we don't do it very often and had to pull life jackets out of the dock box.

Pussers is typically our favorite college football spot but it was the same weekend as the Annapolis Sailboat Show so we had to find another location. We hadn't been to Kent Narrows in forever and had a great time at Red Eye's Dock Bar.

Beware - It was a little tricky getting into Kent Narrows. I'm glad we followed some other boats in. The tides must be messing with the channel and a new shoal is making everyone go to the outside of the channel. Being slightly off season, we were able to dock right at the fuel dock. We were also the early birds so we had our pick of barstools in the shack with TVs. Red Eye's is hardly known for their cuisine and unfortunately some of the meals with lacking - steak covered in hot sauce is not the best preparation for a surf and turf plate. But the drinks were good and some of our crew participated in their own personal cornhole tournament.And the local wildlife is friendly enough to eat right out of your hand.I think we need to put Red Eye's into our general rotation.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Clam Bake

Last weekend we went to Fairlee Creek for a clam bake and bonfire. The weather forecast was rainy and 60 degrees but we have some diehard boating friends and 5 boats made it out for the festivities.

I had never been to a beach clam bake before so I was really excited to see how this was all going to work. It's really easy and I highly recommend you try it if you like seafood.

First dig a pit in the sand. It only needs to be about 8 inches deep.
Next, fill the pit with charcoal and light it. Give the charcoal some time to fully heat up. Once the charcoal is ready, put some water in the pots and let the water heat up. I was really surprised by how quickly the water boiled sitting out in the open, especially since last weekend was so cold. The two end pots have only a few inches of water to steam the potatoes and corn. The middle pot was about half full of water. We used that pot for the shrimp, clams, and mussels. Adding old bay to the water is a great way to season the shrimp. You can make life easier by putting the clams, mussels, and shrimp in netting bags. You can do this while you wait for the water to heat up. The potatoes and corn take the longest to cook. Put them in the pots first. They should be ready in about 30 minutes. The shrimp, mussels, and clams take only about 10 minutes to cook. You'll know the shellfish are ready when they crack open. I was a little late to the game getting a photo of the results. Honestly, it all smelled so good that I dug in before thinking about the camera. I did get a picture of the remnants of the seafood. Can't wait to do this again!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Annapolis and College Football

We finally got the boat back! We finally got the boat back!

So, she was out of the water for many weeks. We usually plan repairs for winter months but sometimes the boat has other ideas. It should never have taken as long as it did to replace the bellows but there was an earthquake, and a hurricane, and a tropical storm, and rain, and rain, and rain, and rain... you get the idea.

Doug picked her up last Friday afternoon and we left for Annapolis early Saturday morning. The Chesapeake Bay is still a bit of a mess. We kept our eyes open for debris and slalomed a bit during the hour trip. With an iffy weather forecast and knowledge about the bay conditions, the only other boats on the water were die-hard fishermen. The result -- water that was like glass.

We scored a prime docking spot in Ego Alley at the very end. I love people watching from the boat, especially in Ego Alley. One small issue with this particular spot in Ego Alley - the ducks! What? Is Julie really complaining about an animal? Well, a bit, yes. The ducks are cute and everyone wants to feed them. That's great. But when your boat is right next to their dinner zone, the ducks seem to think that your swim platform is a great place to hang out. Even that isn't all that bad. The issue - ducks doing what ducks do after they eat - on your swim platform.

But we couldn't sit on the boat all day. We had come to Annapolis to watch college football. We walked to one of our favorite outdoor bars, Pusser's, and settled in for a good game. I realize that "College Football" is part of the title of this post but the game was so bad I simply can't discuss it. At least the Lime Pepper Barramundi Wrap was completely worth it. We also had a couple friends drive down to spend the day so we had a great time (even if the Terrapins threw the game away).

After dinner at Middleton Tavern (a little pricey but great location), we walked to one of our other favorite places in Annapolis - Aromi d'Italia. This place has some of the best gelato we have ever found. We were completely unprepared to see this:

an eviction notice! We've been coming here for years! I peeked in the windows and the gelato coolers were completely empty. I don't think there is any hope that this is a mistake. Maybe someone else will buy the space and open another gelato place? Please?

One final thought on our trip - As we were walking around the docks, we came across these two boats:

Do you think one was purchased during a bull market and the other during a bear market?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tourists in Our Hometown and the Baltimore Grand Prix

This past weekend we moved our boat to BMC Harborview for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. My parents came into town and bought tickets for the four of us for the three day "Festival of Speed." Sure, we could have stayed in our own marina, but this marina was easy walking distance to the Inner Harbor (less than a mile). We felt like tourists in our own town. We rarely go to the Inner Harbor anymore. Don't get me wrong, I highly recommend that any visitor to Baltimore go there. It's beautiful; the city has done a great job revitalizing this important area. We just normally stay closer to home and less packed restaurants.

The walk to and from the marina was like a dream. There is a well-lit, safe-feeling walkway along the water between the marina and the harbor. I wish I had taken a picture of this walkway. I think there are (hopefully) still plans to extend the walkway further around into Harbor East, Fell's Point, and Canton.

We were definitely placed on the right pier at Harborview. The boats on E pier were rockin! Everyone was out being social and we had a great time. Plus, how can you go wrong with a Baltimore icon as a nightlight:Another plus for Harborview, it's walking distance from Little Havana. When I say walking distance, I mean 2 blocks. For those of you who don't know, part of The Replacements was filmed in this bar/restaurant. For non-movie people, the cuban inspired food is good and the atmosphere is delightfully unsophisticated. We went for dinner one night and snagged a prime outdoor table. Try this locals joint next time you are in town.

A highlight of the weekend was a stop at the BMC Inner Harbor. We noticed a Maritimo docked there and decided to show my parents our dream boat. The owners were sitting outside on the boat so I walked over to explain why the four of us were standing there pointing at their boat. Debbie and her husband were so kind; they invited us onto the boat so I could show my parents the inside. It turns out that they spend half of the year in Annapolis near the Chart House restaurant. If I ever see their boat again I'll bring them a bottle of wine for being so gracious. As I often tell people "once you have a boat you are in the club," yet this was an above and beyond kindness from strangers.

And now, a posting from a guest blogger (my husband) with more information about the Grand Prix:

The Inagural Baltimore Grand Prix was a huge success in my point of view. It gave the racing fans and those just interested in the hype a first class view into Grand Prix racing. Friday started out a bit slow due to delays in getting the fencing up and finalized but gave the first glimpses into what we were about to expect in the following days. The drivers were a bit cautious on the new course but all seemed to indicate by the end of the day that they liked the course. We even got to see one wreck of a Porche that backed itself into one of the retaining walls.

One of the neat things about the Baltimore set-up was that the prep area for the crews was inside within the convention center. You could walk through and see all of the car preps and even some of the drivers if they were out helping with the cars or signing autographs.

On Saturday the qualifying and racing really started and so with it came more fans. The first highlight of Sat was walking around finding the car club section where there were hundreds of high performance cars on display.

The second highlight was the American LeMans Series race. It was very cool to see the different style cars (porsche, corvette, BMW, lamborghini, and prototypes) all racing at different speeds and in different classes. It was difficult to determine who was leading each class but we really enjoyed the race. I know my favorites were the two corvettes and patron sponsored lamborghinis.

On Sunday the races were on. Our day started out by watching the Indy Lights race where only about 1/2 of the field finished the race. Three of the cars were pushed behind the wall on the hair pin turn by the end of the race. It seemed like no one wanted to win the race as the 4 drivers who were in the lead near the end of the race all wrecked on their own and gave the win to the #2 car that spun out early in the race. Goes to show that you should never give up.

The day wrapped up with the IZOD IndyCar race which showed how truly skilled drivers can drive a difficult track without wrecking since the first 30+ laps were completed with no issues....then the 10 car back-up occurred right in front of us. I was so focused on what was happening that I forgot to take a live picture so had to settle for a photo of the replay TV display in front of us. The race ended with the favorite (Powers) winning and Patrick showing that if you stay out of trouble you can turn a horrid qualifying session into a decent finish.

If this has perked your interest and you are trying to decide on seats for next year...I highly recommend the hair-pin turn. You see the most action and the higher up you are the better. Our seats even allowed us to stand at the top some which gave some fresh air through a nice breeze along with a great view of the city being attacked by the local pirates.

Bottom line...if you have any interest in the amazing thought of cars going 200+ miles per hour through a city...then plan on a weekend next year to go to the race and enjoy what Baltimore has to offer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We Survived Irene

The boat, the zodiac, and the house all made it through Irene unscathed. We went to check the boat this morning and found this "damage": Who is going to clean up this mess? Shouldn't the marina have hired someone to remove leaves from boats as they fell from the trees? (Of course, I'm completely joking.)

In all seriousness, we are so happy that we didn't have any issues. We visited our home marina and found a couple minor problems:

This tree is located outside of the marina. Looks like it fell in the "right" direction and didn't cause any harm.This guy should probably bail out his dinghy. I'm not sure it will make it through any more rain.The canvas on this boat didn't weather the storm too well.
Then again, the canvas is just fine. Looks like the wood was the weak link.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Preparing for Irene

Hurricane Irene is on her way. I really don't think Baltimore is going to have too many issues but it's always good to have a healthy respect for these storms.

We were planning on having the boat ride out the storm at our marina. Anchorage Marina has floating piers and they aren't predicting a bad storm surge. Our plans have changed based on work being done on the outdrives. AM/PM Marine has been busy pulling boats out all week and they haven't had a chance to complete the work on our boat (you may notice that we only have one prop right now). Therefore, she is still out of the water. We went to check on her early this morning. Here is the before picture:We took down all the strataglass and put up the cockpit cover. On a positive note, this cover will get a good cleaning: She has already survived an extremely rare East Coast earthquake this week. This is just another test in a miserable weather August. Good luck boat!

When the boat was pulled for maintenance, we left the zodiac behind in the slip. The zodiac was simply sitting on the dock:We've strapped it down as well:People in Baltimore have strong memories of Isabel. The city was hit by a 9 foot storm surge. Many parts of Fell's Point and the Inner Harbor were under water. We were docked at the Inner Harbor Marina during that storm and our piers floated above the pylons. It was a scary situation and we were very lucky to be left without damage to our boat. Home and business owners are getting ready for Irene (what is it with "I" name hurricanes and Baltimore?):
This real estate office seems to be prepared to an extreme. Better safe than sorry, but, seriously? Are their windows made of plastic wrap?Be safe everyone! Time to take a nap so I can stay up through the storm.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kaleigh's Beach

I'm a bit behind in posting. Our last boat trip was a week and a half ago. We rafted up with friends at a small beach across from Parkside Marina. A couple of our boat friends call it "Kaleigh's Beach" because their young granddaughter loves to go there.

If you've never been there, it's so nice and calm. We backed in toward the beach and could stand on sandy ground right off the swim platform. The tides were high during this visit so the beach was almost non-existent. Plus, Doug made Kaleigh mad by riding off in the dinghy that had her beach toys. It's a good thing kids seem to have a short memory for things like that. The weekend was relaxation at its best. Although after the last few weeks of HOT weather, the water was almost chilly.

We coordinated dinner with our friends and had quite the feast. Doug made pulled pork (hint: cook it at home the night before then heat it up in the skillet with some vegetable broth) and grilled corn on the cob. Debby and Jenn made two types of slaw and peach pie. FYI - Angry cole slaw rocks!

On Saturday we saw an odd site. Yes, that is a Tow Boat assisting a sailboat. How often do you see a sailboat getting towed? Especially on a breezy day? Can't they operate under wind power? Isn't that the point of a sailboat?

We skipped boating last weekend in order to clean the house. I finally have a basement again. I don't know how we lucked out but I sure am glad we weren't boating. Anyone who lives remotely near Baltimore knows about the torrential rain we had all weekend. I was starting to wonder if Noah was building another Ark. We've been out in rain before but this was nonstop, drenching, party-stopping rain. There are plenty more weeks to go and I'm sure we'll be out again soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nabb's Creek

A ski chalet on the water?No, just a restaurant.

We visited Nabb's Creek Dock Bar and Grill for lunch with some friends last Sunday. The visit started a little strange: We pulled into a slip and an employee came out to ask the length of our boat. We told him the length and he told us to move because we were in a slip reserved for 40 feet plus. He also told us he would help us get into the new slip. Okay, no big deal, we'll move. We pulled over to the new slip and started to back in but the current messed up the first try and we had to pull out and try again. The employee walked back up the dock and left. At this point I'm thinking, "I'm sorry, what just happened? Didn't you just offer to help? Where are you going? I guess you didn't want a tip." Again, not a huge deal, we were able to get into the slip ourselves, it was just weird.

Then the second odd thing happened: We walked into the restaurant and it was dead. There were maybe six people at the bar and I couldn't get any employees to make eye contact. Finally someone asked if we would like a table. We seated ourselves outside and proceeded to have a very nice lunch. Still, 12:30 on a gorgeous Sunday? Where was everyone? A few people did show up as we were leaving. While the food was good, it wasn't anything to write home about. So, now I'm wondering if we should go back? Nabb's Creek is a pretty ride and the restaurant is in a cool spot, but it lacks people. Anyone been there. Is Saturday different?

We had great friends with us on the boat so we anchored in Stoney Creek for a few hours after lunch. Sunny day, warm water, good tunes. This was the icing on the cake for the day (actually, I guess it was the whole cake too).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Please Be Safe

I don't typically make public service announcements but the number of tragic boating accidents in the Maryland/Virginia area recently is shocking. A high school classmate recently died during 4th of July festivities on the Potomac River. There were three separate accidents in Anne Arundel County alone this past weekend. We were on Stoney Creek this weekend and saw the boats searching for the man who mysteriously jumped off a moving vessel. We all want to have fun in the sun, but please be careful.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Luv'n Life III in Action

Doug and I hang out with a few people at our home marina, however, most of our raftups are with people from other marinas. We all show up from different directions and arrive/leave at varying times. On the Sunday after Bumper Bash, James and Sandra on Durrano left at the same time as us. Since we were heading in the same general direction for a while we cruised together. It's pretty much impossible to get a picture of your own boat while it's in motion, so we always make a point of taking pictures of our friends' boats in motion. Many thanks to Sandra for taking these pictures of Luv'n Life III with her cell phone: Here's a quick pic of Durrano in action:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bumper Bash

The hottest day yet this summer, a band and DJ set up on a barge, and an estimated 700+ boats -- aka Bumper Bash!

Doug and I and two friends arrived at Dobbins Island at 10:30 Saturday morning and found many boats already anchored for the festivities. We could see some friends of ours closer to shore but it was already too late to raft up with them. Oh well, we set our bow and stern anchor and settled in for the day. When we first anchored we had a great view of the music barge. The music was great. Lots of songs from my childhood mixed in with today's best hits. Boats quickly filled in just about every inch of space and became more entertaining than the music. I wish I could have captured the real essense of the number of boats anchored in this space.I was amazed by how many people were crammed onto some of these boats. a) Is that even legal? b) It was HOT that day and they had little to no shade (wow, I must be getting old to make that sort of comment). c) We estimated the water to be 84 degrees - kept you cool but not exactly refreshing. Then again, they all appeared to be having a great time, so who am I to judge. There was dancing and a lot of booze so we started taking bets on who would pass out or fall off one of those boats first. There were definitely some pass outs by the end of the day. Not sure we saw any people that fell off unintentionally. We did see girls play the "Oh No! Don't throw me in (giggle giggle) game." There was also a nearly sunken canoe.We were able to raft up with our friends on C-Dreamer and Durrano at different points during the day. We also took the zodiac to visit other friends. It was nice to visit, but easier to be rafted up. There were so many people swimming in the water and so many boats close together. Plus, as soon as you took the zodiac anywhere there was a random group on a raft somewhere that requested help getting back to their boat. Doug and our friend Mike "saved" a few people. There were also rafts that needed returned to their owners. I wanted to keep a penguin but did the right thing (we still collected a few rafts later in the evening that had been left behind). Some of the guys needed "saving" from their unmanly predicaments....Or poor choice in alcohol....(Jaeger and a Natural Light - seriously?)I can't believe I'm posting a picture of myself in a bikini on a public blog, but.....look what I got to try!We offered this guy (who looked just like Ben Stiller) a beer as he passed by. He stopped and let us all try it out. I've seen these numerous times now and have wanted to try it. He actually said that one of the best reasons to own one is to see people try it out. Most people fall. He taught us the key -- "Don't look down!" and I was able to find success on the first try. It was fun but I'm not sure I want to own one. Might be just a novelty. Either way -- thanks dude!

By 8pm the anchorage area had really cleared out. Only the larger boats remained. The coast guard, police, and fire boats kept most people in line as boats pulled up anchor. We did see a fight on a boat next to us. Luckily no one was seriously hurt. We also witnessed a young man on a police boat later in the evening. Doug, Mike, Annie and I decided to name him "Chad." While we don't know the real story, we have decided that his buddies unknowingly left him behind and he was drunkenly swimming around looking for them. I'm sure the police brought him somewhere safe in the long run.We stayed the night and had more fun in the sun on Sunday. Looking forward to the 6th Annual Bumper Bash next year.