As I was writing this article, hurricane Igor had just left Bermuda and was heading for Newfoundland, Canada, kicking up dangerous surf along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. News like this always take me back to my cruising days when hurricane season (June 1st to November 30th) meant seeking a safe haven.
The summer of 2004 found us dodging the hurricane season in the lovely Chesapeake Bay. It was the year Florida and its residents would not easily forget; the state was battered with four major hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne). When Charley unexpectedly changed direction and touched down on Punta Gorda, near Fort Myers, we were attending the Southbound Cruiser’s Reunion in Baltimore, Maryland. Although we had a wonderful time helping out with the three-day event, and meeting and mingling with the cruisers, many had their eyes and ears tuned in to the news for information on their houses and families in the area. We were glad to be in Baltimore, and out of the hurricane’s path.
We had cast off from Jacksonville, Florida in April with the Chesapeake Bay as our final destination. We had gone there three years earlier, but this time we were determined to cruise most of the rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. By July, we had arrived in Norfolk, Virginia, where we celebrated America’s Independence Day. More American history was in store for us at Yorktown, where Lord Cornwallis and his men surrendered to General Washington in the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. We anchored on the York River, and took the dinghy in. The free trolley took us around the cute historic town, which is dotted with 18th Century homes, art galleries and antique shops amid battlefield grounds.
We crisscrossed the bay, from Solomons Island (Patuxent River) to Oxford (Choptank River and Tred Avon River) to St Michaels (Miles River) to Chestertown (Chester River) and Georgetown (Sassafras River). The month of August found Mai Thai in Baltimore on the Patapsco River. We were docked at Anchorage Marina, near the enclaves of Fells Point and Canton, both wonderful neighborhoods with fabulous restaurants. The marina is also within walking distance to the Inner Harbor. We had only one complaint. The Patapsco River, which runs all the way into Baltimore, fills the city with tons of garbage. It is unsightly to say the least, but luckily, the city of Baltimore keeps the river clean by sending people to pick up the garbage almost on a daily basis. The water is actually pretty clean; on a nice clear day, you can see fish and crabs swimming about. The bottom is another story. Cruisers had warned us about the junk that came up with their anchors after anchoring out in the river.
Many cruisers we met along the way also stopped in Baltimore that August. We had the opportunity to hang out with Bill and Joy of Chandelle and their friend Captain Mike, a retired docking pilot. His steel boat, the 65-foot Mi-T-Mo, a converted Army T-boat, never fails to attract attraction wherever he took her. We learned some naval history when these folks took us on a cruise alongside the Liberty ship John W. Brown. Built in 1942, the John W. Brown was used to transport cargo, weapons and troops during the Second World War. It was later used as a training ship, graduating thousand of high school students for careers in the Merchant Marine, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. The John W. Brown is one of two surviving fully operational Liberty ships preserved in the United States.Another memorable event was the free concert at nearby Patterson Park. We were astounded to find the mayor of Baltimore (Martin O’Malley is now the governor of Maryland) playing in his band – the O’Malley’s March. What great Irish music! We had a blast.
We love Baltimore! We would go back in an instant.