Friday, September 19, 2014

Star-Spangled Spectacular - Part 3

Baltimore sure knows how to throw a party: the Star-Spangled Spectacular brought amazing airshows by the Blue Angels; majestic naval and tall ships filled the Inner Harbor and Fell's Point; there were rides, carnival food, and concerts; and, of course, the absolute best fireworks display (and reportedly most expensive ever done in Maryland). If you weren't here, I'm very sorry to report that you will have to wait 98 years for the next Star-Spangled celebration. Luckily, you can get a taste of it all here. (Be sure to check Star-Spangled Spectacular - Part 1 and Part 2 for pictures of the Blue Angels and visiting ships.)

Rash Field is typically home to sand volleyball courts. It was transformed into a Family Fun Zone for the week:

There was a contest for the best dog costume. We are happy to report that one of our boat neighbors won. Congratulations Honey!

Pier 6 hosted a star-studded concert Saturday evening before the fireworks. We didn't have tickets but the whole event was simulcast on PBS. Check out the lineup! The concert was hosted by John Lithgow and Jordin Sparks with performances by Kristin Chenoweth, Melissa Etheridge, Denyce Graves-Montgomery, Little Big Town, Pentatonix, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Train, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

And lastly, the fireworks! Thanks to the good folks at West Marine that provided me with a copy of the fireworks map. I've labeled our marina (Harborview) in red so you can get an idea of our view.

The barges were set up sometime on Friday. I assume someone had to stay aboard each barge overnight for security reasons. The smallest barge was placed directly in the Inner Harbor.

We could see the fireworks from five of the barges (with occasional views of the ones furthest inland in the Inner Harbor). All six shows were synchronized! It's truly impossible to capture the beauty, intensity, and vibrations from six barges of fireworks going off. But here is my feeble attempt.
Fireworks from two separate barges going off in sync.
We could see the fireworks being set off from the barge directly in front of our marina. For any local Baltimore folks - yes that is Boh in the background.
Watching fireworks near water gives the added beauty of reflection.
"The bombs bursting in air"
Baltimore's iconic Domino Sugars sign.
There were fireworks that we have never seen before! (However, they were a little hard to capture on film.)
The American Flag
I believe that I have been spoiled. I can't imagine any fireworks display living up to this. Thank you Baltimore for a wonderful celebration.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Star-Spangled Spectacular - Part 2

The Star-Spangled Spectacular brought more than the Blue Angels. It brought a plethora of visiting ships. I did not get a chance to tour any of these beauties but many were open for public tours. Here is a sample of the floating amazingness that filled Baltimore for the past week.

Tall Ships

Kalmar Nyckel
Home Port: Wilmington, Delaware

Such beautiful details.
I want to drink coffee on the stern of this boat. Even if it looks a bit like Disney World.
Home Port: New London, Connecticut

Gazela (with the USCGC Eagle behind her)
Home Port: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

El Galeón Andalucía
Home Port: Seville, Spain
I'm pretty sure that's not the safest way to add a tire fender.
Naval Vessels

USNS Choctaw County
This massive beast looks more like a building than a ship. Then again, it is an entire "county." The ship looks like raw metal but they said they don't plan to paint her because of the weight of the paint. This 338 foot ship can cruise at 43 knots (that's twice the speed of my "tiny" 46 foot vessel).

Imagine needing fenders this large!
Even if they aren't going to paint the rest of the ship, it's nice to see they are fans of Derek Jeter.

The Choctaw County was well protected.

Private Vessels

Baltimore felt a bit like Miami with mega yachts everywhere!



Anchored Vessels

All Baltimore Marine Center marinas were completely booked for the weekend. I'm sure every other marina in the city had the same good fortune. Those that could not get a slip, or chose to come just for the day, anchored outside the Blue Angels restricted zone for the airshow. Many thanks to my friend Dawn who shared this photo. I've never seen this many boats outside of Fort McHenry.

Stay tuned for one more post this week about the fireworks and festival atmosphere.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Star-Spangled Spectacular - Part 1

Baltimore was the center of the universe this past weekend. Okay, that may be a bit extreme, but it was the center of important American history with the Star-Spangled Spectacular. We've spent the last few days celebrating the 200th anniversary of the National Anthem and the end of the War of 1812. Loyal readers, Baltimore locals, and history buffs will remember the Star-Spangled Sailabration in June 2012. At that time, there was promise of an even bigger celebration in 2014. That promise was fulfilled necessitating a series of posts this week to cover everything.

First up was a return of the Blue Angels. Once again, they thrilled the city for four days (two practice days and two shows). Their first practice day coincided with the 13th anniversary of September 11. I happened to be driving down I-95 while they were in the air. I couldn't help but wonder about the thoughts of drivers who were unaware of the celebration. It would seem frightening to see fighter jets over a major city on that day. Hopefully the signs about the Spectacular eased their minds.

A majority of the show was performed above Fort McHenry which required restricted zones in the waters directly off of the fort. Many boaters chose to anchor outside of the restricted zone for the shows but we elected to stay home in our slip. There really wasn't a bad seat anywhere along the Baltimore waterfront and we had many friends stopping by throughout the celebration.

I have to give most of the credit to Doug (who is a much better photographer) for the amazing pictures below.

These helicopters flew through about 30 minutes before the show started. I'm assuming they were doing a final check to be sure the airspace was clear.

It's not all about the Blue Angels.
City airshows are just incredible.

I can't imagine driving a car a top speeds this close to another car. These pilots are something else.

Stay tuned this week for posts on the naval and tall ships and the fireworks display that has spoiled every other display I may potentially see in my lifetime.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Getting Medical Assistance

When you live on a boat, you bring your whole house with you wherever you go. In general, this makes life pretty easy. You don't have to pack clothes for a weekend away. You always have that kitchen gadget that someone else forgot. You have plenty of Band-Aids for the scrapes and bruises in life.

What do you don't have is an easy way to get help for a dislocated shoulder.

We were anchored in Fairlee Creek with three other boats for Labor Day weekend. On Sunday, Doug decided to go visit friends elsewhere in the basin. He borrowed the standup paddle board and off he went. As he approached their boat he reached out for the bow railing so he could stand and talk to them. Unfortunately, a gust of wind had other ideas. The paddle board went out from under him and he fell. I actually saw the fall. It didn't look like anything serious. We've all fallen off the paddle board. A couple minutes later I found out how wrong I had been. Our friends called to say that Doug had dislocated his shoulder while falling into the water.

LESSON NUMBER 1 -- Always sit or kneel down when approaching a boat while using a standup paddle board.

Doug had the good sense to get out of the water before the pain got too bad. By the time I got to our friends' boat Doug was in pain but "safe." 911 was called with a request for a medical team to come help. If you've been to Fairlee Creek on a holiday weekend you know that there are a lot of boats anchored in the basin. Identifying this boat from shore and getting another boat out to help was going to take too long. So we started the process of pulling up the anchor to bring Doug to shore.

LESSON NUMBER 2 -- If feasible get the injured person to shore as soon as possible. Don't wait for help to come to you.

The ambulance crew met us at the fuel dock at Mears Great Oak Marina. Doug's arm was secured and he was transferred to the ambulance for a ride to the hospital. Before getting into the front seat of the ambulance to go with him, I asked a marina staff member about shuttle or taxi service in the area. I knew we were in a small town, we were a couple hours from our vehicles, and we would need to find a way back later that evening. The marina did not have a shuttle and taxis don't run on Sundays in that town but he suggested I ask at the hospital. While on the way to the hospital, I asked the ambulance driver for transportation advice. He also suggested asking at the hospital.

LESSON NUMBER 3 - When in a small town ask everyone you can find for assistance.

We spent a couple hours at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. It was a small emergency room but everyone was kind. Doug's shoulder was stubborn but two doctors and a nurse worked diligently to get it back in place. If you've ever dislocated a shoulder you know that the immense relief felt when everything is back in place is akin to heaven (at least that's what Doug tells me).

This is where Lesson Number 3 comes into play. Knowing he would soon be discharged I asked the nurse about transportation options. Doug's room was near her desk so we heard the many phone calls she made trying to help us out. The taxi service was closed. The hospital bus didn't have anyone on call. The marina couldn't help us. The sheriff's office couldn't help us. The Uber app wasn't even registering our location. Finally, she found some good Samaritans willing to lend us a hand. I cannot even express how grateful Doug and I are to her dedication to helping us.

When we got back to the marina, one of the boats in our raftup pulled off to pick us back up at the fuel dock. Three-and-a-half hours after the initial fall, we were back on board. A storm was approaching so the raftup crew had zipped our canvas and isinglass back in place. They had dinner ready and waiting for us. They immediately handed me a glass of wine saying I deserved it. (Doug also deserved a drink but alcohol does not go well with pain killers.) They also explained that they had come up with an entire plan for helping me get the boat back to Baltimore if Doug had to stay in the hospital.

LESSON NUMBER 4 - Always be sure to surround yourself with amazing people.

So, there's our story. It probably raises more questions than provides answers but perhaps it will get people thinking.

LESSON NUMBER 5 - Know where you are. Know how to use the VHF radio to get help. You never know when you'll need that information.