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Summer Boating on the Chesapeake Bay

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beautiful Key Waden

Key Waden - Naples, FL September 10th, 2011

Shark Bait

 There was no boating in the Chesapeake for us this weekend.  We went to Naples, Florida to visit Buddy's mom & to celebrate my birthday weekend.  We have a 21 foot Key Largo we keep down there because it's just so perfect for that kind of boating.  We keep it near the entrance to 10,000 islands so the smaller, faster, more nimble boat is perfect for scooting around the islands and even going out in the gulf. 

Bridge to Marco Island
 We headed out Saturday morning to do a little fishing and catch some Florida rays, since the sun's strength is waning in Baltimore now.  We keep the boat in Goodland, the wayward step-child of Marco Island, in a hurricane rated boatel.  The service is great - you show up and they put your boat right in.  We loaded up with shrimp and ice and off we went.  The water was a little murky around the islands, so we didn't have a lot of luck fishing.  A few hits and lost bait, but not even a cat fish on the line!  So we moved on (which was my ultimate plan anyway) up the Marco River, under the two bridges to Marco Island, through the Pass, across the shoal and over to Key Waden!  I like to call it Hart-Miller South.  It's a barrier island that you can only get to by boat, with beautiful crystal clear waters and a white sandy beach.  The water drops off quickly, so you can bow in your boat and spend the day on the island, swimming in the warm gulf waters, laying on the beach, shelling the millions of differing shells, cooking out or doing nothing at all.  There are dozens of boats there on the weekends, so you have to get there early to get a spot on the beach.  

Key Waden
 We were lucky and got a perfect spot.  The neighbors were playing music.  Buddy threw out his line (he's been lucky there before) and I went for walk. 

BK fishing
  Again, as with earlier summer finds, the beach has changed dramatically since the last time we were there.  A small creek has formed allowing a pond to form on the interior of the island.  The water there was holding fish & minnows captive until the tide comes in again.  But there are still tons of shells to be found.  And it seems that the sea birds have found a home here too.  There were flocks and flocks of noisy pipers on the gulf side of the island.  If something spooked them they all flew at once to the other side in a beautiful, if raucous display.  I spent most of the day lounging at waters edge in the 87 degree waters of the gulf, watching Buddy toss his line and reel it in and toss and reel... a soothing routine like the waves coming in and going out . Such a relaxing day. 

Lounging in the gulf
We headed out around mid-day back toward Goodland to have lunch at one of our favorite places - Mile Marker 8.  It's someone's old house that's been converted to a restaurant.  We were greeted by Pirate the Parrot, who was not-so-patiently waiting in a golf cart for his owner to come out of the bar.  We talked the waitress in to bringing him in where he ate a cracker out of my hand and talked to us non-stop.  Just another typical day in Goodland...
Pirate the Parrot
A few years ago, Marco Island tried to buy up the land in Goodland to no avail, and I'm sure glad they didn't get their way.  Goodland to Marco Island is like Key West is to West Palm Beach.  It's old school, kitschy, politically incorrect, anything goes and I love it just the way it is.  And if you ever get a chance to visit, our favorite festival is the Mullet Festival that happens at Stan's Idle Hour the 3rd weekend in January, where you can learn to Buzzard Lope, watch a mullet tossing contest and enjoy a buzzard cocktail alongside the many cast and characters that make up Stan's.  Whitey Schmidt has even been known to make an appearance.   And don't forget to stop by the Island Woman Boutique for a kooky hat & sunglasses, it's a must!

House on Marco Island

Home in Goodland

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Premier Ride's KC Crew

Boating season is winding down now so I’m not sure how many more blogs are in the works, but we’ll keep them coming as long as we can.  I had a special edition up my sleeve, but will be saving that for next week as Sara Ingram has quite a story that she has so graciously offered to share here.  I had asked on her facebook page when we would be boating together again, and this is the response I received.  Enjoy.

Hard Yacht Café, Bear Creek
September 10th, 2011 (two days after the Conowingo Dam opening)

"You ask, “when will we boat together again?” and I answer you this way:  “when you throw out common sense”.   I have to share the story and photos!!!

Last year we went to the playoff game in Kansas City, and to make a long story short we “worked” our way into the best suite in the stadium—50 yard line, double suite, 2 fire places, ex-players, etc. all there.  We invited our “friends” to Baltimore for the first regular season game.  They arrived Friday.  After confessing we didn’t know anyone in Kansas City, nor did anyone from Baltimore tell us to look them up, we enjoyed dinner at Ruth Chris and offered to take them boating the next day since Saturday was expected to be great weather.
KC Crew
We got a nice crew together (see pics!) and while waiting for a few late arrivals, our boat neighbors mentioned that they heard there was a lot of debris from the dam being opened.  They warned us to be careful since others had turned back after seeing an RV Trailer in the water.   With an adventurous crew ready, Premier Ride departed.

Even before the Key Bridge, there was a surprising amount of debris in the water.  As we crossed under the bridge and continued beyond Fort Carroll, we realized that this was no joke—we had two spotters plus the captain screaming “turn right!”, “go left!” , “uh…not sure which looks worse, better just put it in neutral!”.  We approached the John Brown, who was out on one of their three “Living History Cruises” of the year, with hundreds of people on board.  The ship cleared the way for us beautifully, but then we realized that it would fill back in after we went through and then there would be no John Brown for our return.  Moving at this pace, we knew we would miss the bikini contest at Riverwatch, so headed to the Hard Yacht Café instead.

Liberty Ship John Brown
Others must have had the same idea, because Hard Yacht was packed!!  Our Kansas City friends had their first Maryland Crab experience at Hard Yacht.  There was a great live performance by Mark Alan, and some of our ladies even became his tambourine dancers!  We were having a fabulous time, until all of the sudden a storm approached and down-poured.  I ran to the boat to cover the electronics and put up the canvas.  By the time I got just the windshield canvas up, you would have thought I’d gone for a swim fully clothed.  Almost as soon as it started, the rain stopped but the amount of water that fell was worth putting up the canvas, and got me a new Hard Yacht tank top!!

Fun at the Hard Yacht
We returned to BMC, stopped for a drink at Bo Brooks Tiki Bar, then went home to get ready for the Flip-Flop Festivus at Silo Point, benefiting the Life and Breath Foundation. 

Floating islands of debris
I tell you, I have never seen anything like it.  I tried to take some pictures, but was so worried about the boat that what I have just doesn’t do it justice.  YIKES!  Always an adventure on Premier Ride! LOL
Next time you DEFINITELY should come with us…and wear your life vest J"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bittersweet Boating

Tilghman Island Marina
Labor Day Weekend, September 3-5, 2011

Every year we go to Tilghman for Labor Day weekend.  It's one of the boating bookends: Memorial Day anchored in St. Michael's and Labor Day at the Tilghman Island Marina.  One of my favorite weekends of the summer with some of my favorite people, and yet I hate looking forward to it because it means summer is coming to an end.  This year was no different (although I almost threw a wrench it by trying to coerce Buddy in to going to the Grand Prix - he was having none of that so we compromised.  I went to the Grand Prix Friday (great fun, by the way), he got to go to Tilghman and I got a cruise to Bermuda!  (I'm a pretty good negotiator.)
Heading for better weather

We headed out early Saturday morning with INXS and All In knowing we would be dodging storms.  As luck would have it, we were heading toward brighter skies, so that was a good thing.  We got lucky, and though we saw three storms on radar, didn't run in to any of them.  Instead we had a lovely cruise on a busy bay.  Two hours later we arrived in Tilghman to a welcoming committee of the crew that had come Friday night.  They were already fishing on the docks.  And we tied up and our blood pressure lowered and the stress melted away.

Fishing the docks

Harbor Shark at T.I.M.
 The weather cleared up and we had a beautiful leisurely day of pool time, chatting, reading, munching, chatting, fishing, eating, swimming, cocktails and chatting, even napping before it was time to gear up for sunset dinghy cruise.  Our group was 8 boats, which is a little difficult to organize, so half made it out and half did something else.  We had lovely colors but no sunset to speak of, but no mind.  We tied together and sang Kumbaya and watched the ospreys and seagulls until dark started to settle in and then headed in for the annual festivities of the birthday twins' celebration.  A smorgasbord of meats, salads, vegetables and desserts, all home made and brought off the boats.  MA's pudding shots are always a huge hit and this year (the first time since I've known him) we had a special treat from Buddy - Square Dance Calling!  We all lined up and he taught us square dance tips!  Being that it was around midnight at this point, none of us are quite ready for the Chesapeake Squares, but it sure was a pretty great time.

Sunset Dinghy Cruise

Tilghman Sunset*

Birthday Twins - Can you tell who's who???*
 We awoke Sunday to the disappointing news that there would be no Buddy Fest this year at Harrison's Chesapeake House.  Always the main event of the weekend and our Sunday activity.  This left us with an entire day to entertain ourselves.  Ha!  This crew???  No problem.  The girls went for a power walk, the boys went fishing.  The girls made brunch for all, the boys put out the crab pots in a small cove around the corner from the Narrows. I walked over to check how the guys were doing at fishing and saw Davy in a dinghy going to check on the crabbers, so MA and I hopped in and went with him.  In the cove, we found some of Chesapeake Bay's finest wildlife.  A herd of cows cooling off at water's edge.  Bulls, mamas and babies, all hanging out.  They were curious too, which kind of freaked us out when they started wading out to greet us.  Clark & Buddy had only caught about a dozen crabs and were ready to come in, which meant we weren't having crabs for lunch, so we did some dinking and then headed over to Bay 100 to meet the rest of the gang.  The Nawlins Shrimp (served with warm bread for dipping in the sauce- mmm) & Fried Oysters were delicious.

Wildlife on the Chesapeake!

Bay 100 Fun
 The sunset dinghy cruise that evening was a bit of a debacle.  Being dinghyless, we were on All In's, and Buddy didn't want to go to begin with, so he was grumpy.  We knew there wasn't going to be a sunset, but headed out anyway to be with the group.  We tied together just in time to watch the Carnival Pride cruise down the Chesapeake. When the dinghies started bumping and splashing water, we looked back to find we had drifted far off shore and the wind was picking up.  Two footers on the way in, poor Lexi shaking under my legs and me with water dripping from my head.  And from Buddy "This is why I didn't want to go" - in deadpan.  Kevin was ready to throw him overboard.

Tilghman Island Inn
Not having planned to make another dinner, several us decided to dine at the Tilghman Island Inn as a special treat that evening.  The place is a such a treasure.  On the web-site, it says this:  "A tonic for the soul, a feast for the senses, in one of the most picturesque and magical settings on the Chesapeake Bay".  And that's exactly how you feel while there.  We had drinks in the chic & cozy bar area (picture zebra striped carpet next to the fire place with a large standard poodle draped across the sofa). before being seated in the dining area.   The couple on Beach Music were married here seven years ago and are good friends with the owner, who stopped by to say hello.  We took our time enjoying the ambiance, the conversation with good friends and especially the fine cuisine.  Favorites at the table:  Oysters Choptank:  "Plump Mollusks in a Pernod Scented Champagne Cream Sauce in Puff Pastry" and Lavender Ice Cream (!).

Married 7 years ago at T.I.I.

Next to be married
We awoke in the morning to gray skies and the threat of heavy rain and storms.  Total bummer.  Beach Music was all ready to go.  HarborShark was getting antsy, Crown Jewels had her engines running.  Wow - not expected.  My mood changed to match the weather.  I knew this would be the last group boating outing of the summer and it's heartbreaking.  This is my summer family.  I won't see many of them again until next Spring, and to have to leave so suddenly made me very sad.  To quote The Verve, "it's a bittersweet symphony, this life..."
Thanks Ron & Nancy!
We couldn't leave before saying so long to our gracious hosts - Ron & Nancy, which is why we come every year to the Tilghman Island Marina.  They're a welcoming couple we love to hang with.  Nancy is a foster mom for Tomcat Solutions in Easton and always has kittens when we visit, and being a cat person, I love to help socialize them while I'm there.  We went up to the office to pay one by one, and one by one we pulled out.  Until next year Tilghman... 

Note:  We were fortunate on the ride home that we didn't hit any storms but the boat traffic from the mass exodus of boats from the Grand Prix made for a bumpy ride.  Plus, the site in the city was like something out of a movie.  We were one boat going toward the harbor with hundreds heading out.

*Photos compliments of J.G.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Troublesome Ms. Irene

BMC Lighthouse Point
August 27th & 28th

We had been planning a group gathering to St. Michael's at the special request of a friend for over a month for the weekend of the 27th.  A friend of ours has been dating a very special someone he's just crazy about and we all had our own ideas about what was going down once we got there (champagne on board, just in case), but as it turns out, Mother Nature took the reigns and instead of finally getting my Ava's pizza, we met Hurricane Irene. 

Waking up Saturday morning, I turned on the news and was a little uneasy with the report.  I was planning on going to a wedding shower in Montgomery County since the boat trip was ixnayed, but decided against it based on the forecast.  So we went to the Farmer's Market in Fells, which was also where you could fill sand bags for free.  The mound of sand was at the end of Broadway and traffic was bumper to bumper with last minute fillers.  The market itself was busy, considering the impending storm (the bars too, but that's not surprising).  We enjoyed a deliciously spicy bloody mary at Koopers before returning to Canton to hunker down for the storm. 

Love a good bloody!
 We didn't hunker too long before the square called us, so we headed up for lunch, where we found some of our "Smaltimore" crowd riding out the storm.  We went to Fins where we sat trance-like at the bar watching Irene's progression.  We belly-laughed when the Virginia Beach streaker ran across the screen!  (Amazing that within a few minutes it was already on youtube.) After being there a while, we got a little punch drunk, and started playing with our phone apps.  The funniest by far was Bald Booth!  More and more of the crew started coming in and the place was filling up.   Seems a lot of the city had the same idea on how to weather the storm.  (Well, it is one of the best perks of city living.)

Round 1 of the Hurricane Party

Bald Booth app!

Almost $100 later, we headed out around dinner time to a friend's house, since we're no longer city dwellers ourselves, where we settled in with a good movie and some wine.  It was a LONG, noisy night with the winds howling and the rains pounding, but we never lost power and we didn't flood and the boat is fine and the new interior carpet that was installed on Wednesday didn't get wet.  We were some of the lucky ones. 

Note:      Never afraid of getting hit on the nose, All In actually did head out to St. Michael's Thursday afternoon as originally planned, and I'm happy to say CONGRATULATIONS to the newly engaged couple!  I think you two are great together, and wish you every happiness as you begin planning your new life as one!

Congrats to the Happy Couple!