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Summer Boating on the Chesapeake Bay

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.

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