Century Club: Suzanne Fryberger

Monday, February 8, 2021
Number of days:
1 day
  • Looking Southeast from Mill Creek, toward Turkey Point
  • Me and My Sweetie, Happy to be Floating

While chilly - a high of 34-degrees coming up from the previous night's low of 19, the day was sunny and the wind light.  Dobbs and I couldn't pass up such an opportunity to get out on the water in February.

After wrapping up work early at 2:30pm, we tossed our kayaks on the roof of the truck and drove over to Perryville's Community Park.  We put in at the launch and paddled north around the ice-crusted perimeter of Mill Creek.  A handful of seagulls stood on a floating ice sheet.  Beyond them, to the east, flocks of ruddy ducks paddled out of the creek, wary of our approach.  A single common merganser female brought up the ranks.  Geese flew in V's overhead.  I spied two eagles perched side-by-side high in a tree while great blue herons - something like ten of them - took off from the shore.  We continued east to Shipley Point and then southwest across the mouth of the creek to Stump Point.  We spotted a couple bufflehead and groups of common mergansers flew by.  Out toward the eastern edge of the Flats, we could see the long necks of tundra swans rising above the horizon, and hear their high-pitched hooting.  We rounded the corner and paddled just a little bit west along the shore, seeking to inspect more closely a small flock of greater scaup.  Then, it was time to return to the boat ramp - the park closes at 5pm, and the sinking sun plus our grumbling stomachs were telling us that was nigh.  I took only two photos - just general shots.  It's too cold to expose my hands!     

Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • 100 Days - Done!
  • An Eagle Hunts From a Mud Flat
  • North East, at the Head of the Northeast River
  • Nosing Into Stony Run
  • Sun Highlighting the Banks of Stony Run

...she rested!

Yesterday I achieved my goal (Dobbs did too) - 100 days on the water, on my own boat (since I work on other people's plenty), in 2020.  It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.  First, COVID-19 kept us away from recreational boating.  Our 31' sailboat was on the hard until September as we made major improvements.  I had to WORK (sigh), and usually what I do for Walden Rigging is so physically demanding that the idea of one more hour on a boat at the end of the day is unappealing.  Then, the weather turned windy and cold.  Duck hunters stalked our favorite paddling places. 

I logged most of my 100 days between September 15th and the end of the year, 2/3rds of it on "Grace", our 1966 Columbia 31 and the rest in my kayak or occasionally "The Pea Green Boat", our 10' sailing dinghy.  Is it worth it, spending so much time on the water?  YES! - it's time that challenges me physically, enriches me mentally, and calms me emotionally.  I think of it like Mahatma Gandhi saying, " I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one."

My last boating day of the year entailed an hour spent in my kayak, in 41 degree air and a Small Craft Advisory, poking around the head of the Northeast River.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Beyond Our Backyard, the Marsh
  • Tires and Rusting Metal Litter the Moist Ground
  • Rusting Barrels and an Old Dock
  • The Creek, Looking Downstream
  • Inadvertent Damming Raised Water Level Too High
  • Dead Bamboo Blocks Sunlight and Prevents New Plant Growth
  • Cleaned Stream
  • Flow Restored
  • Trash Awaiting Loading
  • A Full Truckload - 1 of 2

Old habits die hard, and in the case of our neighborhood the habit is dumping trash and debris into the wetland behind our cottage.  The 1/10th of an acre of marsh land is privately owned - part of a 9 lot collection, though the owners are seasonal visitors and, instead of cleaning up trash this year, they cut down about 10 big beautiful shade-giving trees instead.  We've made offers to buy the land from three different owners over the last twenty years, hoping to protect it, but to no avail.  No one wants to separate the single marsh lot from the other eight.  Today, we took advantage of one of the "Extra Credit Points for Stay-at-Home Century Club Members" and took clean-up into our own hands - literally.

Dobbs and I donned waterproof boots and work clothes and, over the course of six hours, hauled out several hundred pounds of trash.  Almost every item was water-logged and muddy.  To get loaded into our truck, each piece had to be carried or rolled up hill from the marsh to the road in front of our house.  We extracted:  5 tires, 1 wheel, two 55-gallon steel drums, 1 copper oil tank and piping (good cash-for-scrap find), rotten wood decking from a floating dock, 3/4 of one giant chest freezer (the door is almost entirely submerged and trees have grown over it), a plastic slide, a "No Wake" marker, a steel ladder, 3 footballs, 2 basketballs, 1 baseball, 1 tarp, half a car dolly, an engine block, a steel car fender, a porcelain and bronze marine head, 4 RV window frames, a slew of plastic flower pots, a plastic barrel, and about 1/8th of a fiberglass power boat. 

In the course of the clean up, we found that the stream that feeds the wetland had been blocked when neighbors cut down bamboo and then bulldozed it, along with trash and the boat, into the stream bed.  We'd noticed that area becoming wetter than usual - like the beginnings of a mill pond - over the last year.  What do you know?  It was!  The ponding area was a couple feet higher than the outflow stream.  We cut and raked out the dead bamboo and piled it off to one side.  Then Dobbs used a ryoba to cut a swath out of the wrecked boat, to allow the stream to flow through.  I raked dead leaves from the stream bed up onto the banks and graded the bed to a more gradual descent.  By the time we were exhausted, the flow was much improved.  

We carted the trash - two truck-loads worth - off to the landfill.  The wetland could still benefit from more management - hauling away of the organic debris (primarily the bamboo) and the remaining trash, and additional restoration - but that will have to wait for another day.  We feel good about what we achieved and we hope our neighbors will notice, and begin to take better care of this special spot.  

Monday, December 28, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Paddling Map
  • An Eagle in the Tree Top
  • Sand Riffles
  • The Chesapeake, Still as Glass
  • Approaching the Bridge
  • Tundra Swans

41 degrees, abundant sunshine, wind S at 0-5 knots

From time to time as we've sailed into the Chester River, Dobbs has pointed toward Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge and mentioned wanting to explore it.  Today we finally had the time, the ambition to make the drive (which, for us, is about 2 hours each way), and the perfect weather.  I popped James Galway's rendition of Mozart into the CD player and away we went, driving down the Eastern Shore with the road mostly to ourselves.

Eastern Neck is an island, so there's a definite moment (besides the Welcome sign) when you know you've arrived:  All of the houses and marinas of Rock Hall are in the rear view and before you is a small wooden bridge surrounded in marsh.  Beyond the marsh to the west lies the Chesapeake Bay; to the east, the Chester River.  Crossing the bridge is like entering a portal to the Chesapeake of 200 years ago - low-lying land ringed in marsh grass and elevated stands of pine forest teeming with wildlife and dotted only sparsley with buildings and roads.  The quiet - that is, the absence of man-made noise - is delightful, the air resonating with the calling of ducks, the high-pitched coo of tundra swans, and the honking of geese.

We drove down to Bogle's Wharf to launch our kayaks and begin our journey on the Eastern Neck Island Water Trail.  From the sign posted there:  "Welcome to the Eastern Neck Island Water Trail.  Located at the mouth of the Chester River, the 2,285-acre Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge is a magnet for bird watchers as it is an important feeding and resting area for migratory and wintering waterfowl.  Stretching 10 miles (oops - I assured Dobbs it was only 8...) the Eastern Neck Island Water Trail circles the island and offers experienced paddlers a rich and challenging experience.  This route may appear simple, but it includes long stretches of open tidal water.  Along the way, you will see abundant wildlife and stunning scenery."

From Bogles Wharf, we departed Durdin Creek and paddled clockwise around the island, passing Shipyard Creek and several small coves before pausing for a floating lunch at Hail Creek.  In the clear, shallow water, riffles in the sand stretched out beneath us in all directions.  After lunch, we continued west around Cedar Point and Panhandle Point, noting the flood tide pushing against us.  The wind was calm and the Bay was still as glass.  On and on we went, now more north than west, past Baybush Point and Wickes Point, and finally into the cut that divides the island from the mainland.  Every point that we approached offered an opportunity to sneak up on ducks before they'd spot us and scoot or fly away; by "sneak up" I mean about 1/4 mile - any closer and off they go.  The challenges we've found with winter waterfowl-watching are that the birds are quite skittish and the low sun angle makes it hard to identify colors.  This doesn't stop us from trying!  I can't blame the birds for being wary - at this point in the year, they've been shot at for going on 4 months.  While Eastern Neck Island may be a refuge, the neighboring shores are not.  We saw buffleheads, Canada geese, a pair of loons, ruddy ducks, mallards, goldeneyes, and Tundra Swans; also one lone oldsquaw.  We may have also seen pintails, but we couldn't be sure.  It was a beautiful day.  Eastern Neck Island NWR is well worth a visit.           

Monday, December 28, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Warm, Bright Sunshine
  • Red #4
  • Kayaking With Our Duck Buddies
  • North Bay Adventure Camp
  • The Full Moon Begins to Take Its Place in the Night Sky
  • Sunset
  • Dobbs Meets a Beaver
  • A Beautiful Moon Hangs Over the Trees
  • Our Decoy Collection

Temperature in the low 40's, sunny, wind SW at 5-10

After yesterday's 10-mile paddle around Eastern Neck Island, Dobbs and I felt sore and not at all eager to get right back to it this morning.  Instead, we puttered indoors for most of the day, waiting until 3pm to head down to the beach with our kayaks.  The air felt warm and the sun was bright.  We launched into the Northeast River and paddled toward Red #4 against a mild flood tide, the sun full on us and delightful.  At Red #4, we pointed our bows southeast toward North Bay Adventure Camp and arrived inside their breakwaters about twenty minutes before sunset.  North Bay is striking in architectural appearance, but even more impressive in its mission to "Challenge people through transformative educational and retreat experiences to realize their attitudes and actions have a lasting impact on their lives, communities, and the environment."  As we paddled through, we startled some Canada geese and mallards and they went flying and honking off downriver.  As we turned our bows back north, a full moon hung in the trees over Elk Neck.  Beautiful!

We kayaked back along the shoreline, surveying the terrain and beach-combing (by boat).  We came upon an abandoned decoy - a scaup - and added it to our collection.  Later, Dobbs found another decoy - this time a blue-winged teal - washed up in a heap of logs, and adopted it as well.  We saw a woodpecker, a red cockaded or downy one - we'd left our binoculars in the truck, regrettably.  As well, we happened upon small flocks of various ducks, but again, without binoculars, we couldn't accurately determine what we were seeing except for some goldeneye.  Astern, the sun set in a quiet blaze of pink and orange; ahead, the moon grew brighter in a darkening sky.  We landed on the beach at Red Point around quarter after 5pm and headed home for dinner.    

Friday, December 25, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Charlestown's Long Park
  • Hello, Beautiful!
  • A John Boat Waits
  • Exploring the Creek by Edgewater Avenue

Merry Christmas!  Mid 30's, mostly cloudy, flurries, wind SW 10-20 with gusts to 25

When I write "mostly cloudy", I envision a dull gray sky unlike today's that, while blanketed in clouds, was active in color as sunlight radiated through.  Mid-afternoon, Dobbs and I launched our kayaks at the Charlestown Long Park.  We were seeking protection from the strong southwest breeze, so we followed the shoreline north, poking into the fairways of Charlestown Marina and The Wellwood.  

We paddled back into the abandoned basin by Avalon Park and then farther back, exploring the small creek that runs alongside Edgewater Avenue.   

Thursday, December 24, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Sailors Preparing for Yoga

With a gale and more than an inch of rain in the forecast, today seemed like a great time to break out one of those alternative Century Club activities.  I chose doing an online sailing workout.  I really enjoy yoga, so I searched for a practice that was sailing-oriented.  That's how I found Yoga for Sailors, from Lisa Palmiotto Cecchi of Sailing Performance Training.  When I read her bio on the SPT website - past collegiate swimmer at West Point, marathon runner - perhaps I should have gleaned that this was going to be a WORK-out.  Lisa has put together an excellent flow yoga practice that pushes the limits of a novice (without exceeding them) and definitely worked those muscles I use in sailing.  I liked that she incorporated "extras" for more experienced practitioners, but I never felt left out of the game - I just held the starting pose a bit longer and watched her do what someday I hope to be able to achieve.  Thank you SpinSheet for this GREAT suggestion!  I tingled with relaxed energy the rest of the day.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Pea Green's Red Pennant, Flying in the Breeze
  • Looking Toward Carpenter's Point, Across the Northeast River
  • Red Point
  • A Modest Lunch in Excellent Company
  • Beating for Home
  • Circle 'Round the Sun

46 degrees, sunny, wind southwest 5-10

Today seemed perfect (for December) conditions for a sail to one of Dobbs and my favorite lunch spots - an abandoned marina basin we refer to as "Walden Pond" (we're Walden Rigging, and it's where we go for lunch...).  It's about 2.5nm as the crow flies northwest from Red Point Beach.

The sail over, once we surmounted the challenge of a low-tide launch at the boat ramp, was an easy broad reach.  We anchored and enjoyed a quiet lunch.  I eat the same sandwich - turkey, provolone, onions, red peppers, lettuce, oregano, and mayo on sourdough rye - just about every day, and yet this one - I SWEAR - was the best.  That's boat hunger for you - it's transformative!

Sailing home took some doing - a beat to windward against a flood tide.  We made it back by 3pm, frosted but happy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Paddling Toward Scotchman's Creek
  • Brooding Skies Above the Bohemia
  • Scotchman's Creek
  • Scotchman's Creek, Looking South
  • Scotchman's Creek, Looking Northeast

46 degrees, wind northwest 10-20 with gusts to 30, partly sunny

As cold air from the north battled it out with warmer air from the south, thick puffy clouds in bright whites and brooding grays swirled overhead.  Dobbs and I put in at the kayak launch at the Route 213 bridge and paddled across the choppy Bohemia River to Scotchman's Creek.  

The shores of the creek, after a collection of modest homes and the marina right at the Glebe Road bridge, for the most part return to nature.  Low-lying marsh transitions to elevated woodland and then back again as the creek meanders south.  We saw some mergansers (red-breasted, most likely), golden eyes, and, of course, mallards.  From a hillside pasture came the mooing of a cow, carried on the wind.  Satisfied with our exploration and not wanting to push the limits on the Gale Warning, we paddled back across the river to the park.

Monday, December 21, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Wildlife Drive Map
  • The Freshwater Wetland Created by the Dike
  • The View From Our Truck
  • A Pair of Shovelers
  • Shoveler with Photo-Bombing Coot
  • A Map Showing the Green Paddling Trail
  • "G" for Green Trail
  • Amazing Wide-Open Beauty
  • A Difinitive End

45 degrees, partly sunny

It's a long drive to go for a paddle, but I'd wanted to visit Blackwater ever since I read about it in Spin Sheet.  Their brochure boasts 20+ species of ducks and I was eager to see something new - perhaps the canvasback that has eluded me for years.  The refuge is southwest of Cambridge, almost to Hoopers Island.  Dobbs and I left North East in fog that stayed around for two-thirds of our journey and then dissipated into a distant haze.  We learned that Governor Hogan had ordered all state businesses closed for the next two weeks as a response to the dramatically upward trend in COVID-19 cases since Thanksgiving.  The Visitors Center was closed, but they'd thoughtfully stationed port-a-potties nearby.

We started our tour at the Wildlife Drive entrance and paid the $3 fee at a self-service kiosk.  Reading from the brochure:  "The Wildlife Drive is a 4-1/2 mile paved road that winds along freshwater ponds, through woods, past fields, and adjacent to marshes."  Basically you're driving on a dike that separates a man-made and managed freshwater wetland from the brackish waters of the Blackwater River.  We saw huge flocks of Canada geese and groups of tundra swans, mallards, pintails, and shovelers; also plenty of eagles and herons, as well as muskrat lodges.  The view out over an open expanse of marsh - miles of it - punctuated sparsely by copses of pine, is breath-taking.  Perhaps breath-giving is a more appropriate description.  As I gazed, my mind quieted, lost in the mist, and my breathing slowed.

From the end of Wildlife Drive, the kayak launch for the Green Trail is just a short distance south.  We parked and ate lunch.  By 12:30pm, we were paddling west on the Blackwater River, following the Green Trail through the marsh.  A pair of eagles surveyed us carefully.  Early on, we spotted a ruddy duck pair.  Occasionally, a turtle would surface near us and watch us watching it.  Unfortunately for us birdwatchers, over the next 8 miles (4 each way), we saw no other ducks.  At all.  Nada.  We contented ourselves with appreciating the landscape which was, by then, dappled with warm sunshine.  

Blackwater is VAST.  What we paddled is a fraction of the 30,000 acres encompassing the park, much of which is truly refuge and off-limits to humans. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Mt Ararat
  • Rock Run Grist Mill
  • Bridge Pilings in Silvery Winter Light
  • Heron Nests
  • Susquehanna Rock Garden
  • Waterfall at Rock Run

41 degrees, mostly cloudy, wind southwest at 5-10 knots

Dobbs and I launched our kayaks at Lapidum Landing and paddled north to the islands adjacent to Rock Run Gristmill.  The water clarity was fantastic!  We circled Snake Island and then followed the mill shore line until we were even with the ruins of the Rock Run Toll Bridge - the earliest bridge crossing (1818) of the Susquehanna River below Columbia, PA.  The bridge consisted of eighteen 200' trussed arch wooden spans.  By 1857, the bridge was mostly destroyed and today only the crumbling stone pilings and abutments remain.  We inspected each of the eight pilings on the western side of the river and then paddled around the northern tip of Wood Island.  In between Wood and Robert Islands, we noted two trees that were filled with bird nests.  Later, I learned that these are likely heron nests - a heron colony - which explains the great number of herons we saw about.  Continuing south, we passed the abutments for the trusses spanning the gap between the islands and a single bridge piling.

We turned north at the tip of Robert Island and paddled up to the line of piling ruins extending east toward Port Deposit.  We kept going upriver in order to wend through the "rock garden" north of Robert Island.  Then, we bore off south, passing Deer Creek and heading for Rock Run.  We poked into the stream a short ways, admiring multi-colored granite and crystal clear water en route to a gurgling waterfall.  

On the way back to the boat ramp, we dog-legged east around Spencer Island for a better view of the pastel-hued sunset sky above the towering hillside.

Saturday, December 19, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Sam's Marina
  • Taurus
  • The Rocky Northern Tip of Garrett Island
  • Freight Train Bridge Over the Susquehanna
  • Wary Raccoon

35 degrees, partly sunny, winds light & variable

Dobbs and I launched our kayaks at the Perryville Boat Ramp and paddled around Garrett Island, north to south, checking out our favorite landmarks: the dredge teetering on the bank, the old tug Taurus slowly disintegrating, the submerged keel and twin engines of a boat otherwise carried away by the river, the freight train bridge, the ancient volcano, and the single remaining wall of an old stone building.  The terrain of the island is striking, and the remaining snow accentuated it.  We saw deer - 5-7 overall - along the west side and then, at the southern tip, we came upon some raccoons.  One climbed a tree and eyed us warily.  From there, we paddled straight back across, under the Route 40 bridge, to the boat ramp.

Friday, December 18, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Golden Grass and Blue Sky

34 degrees, wind NW 10-15, sunny

Dobbs and I launched at Elk River Landing and paddled south to Plum Creek and back. 

We cut through the marsh off Scotland Point and bypassed gunkholing a couple small coves and creeks in order to go straight to Plum Creek, the longest and most interesting-looking (at least from satellite imagery) of the lot.  Exploring Plum Creek, we made it as far as the bend beyond the Oldfield Point Road bridge before it was time to turn back.  This time of year, when the sun sets it gets cold fast!  We want to go back another day and explore more of the upper parts of the creek, though we'll need to find a closer launch spot - it's already about 2 miles from the park to the bridge one-way.  Winter kayaking presents more physical challenges than paddling in warm weather.  It's usually not distance, but exposure time, that limits how far I go.  My hands get cramped and tired from gripping the paddle through densely insulated gloves and thick rubber over-gloves.  Eventually, those same extremities and my feet get cold, and then I start to feel chilled throughout.  Still, I cherish every late Fall day on the water - Dobbs and I are almost always completely alone; just us and nature.

Thursday, December 17, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Red Point Beach
  • Driftwood Snowman
  • Moon Over the Northeast River

Temperature in the mid-30's, wind NW 5-10

There's still a lot of ice on the roads, so Dobbs and I stayed close to home and launched our kayaks from the beach at Red Point.  We paddled south along the Elk Neck shoreline, studying the cliffs.  Not only are they fascinating from a geologic perspective, but the colors are stunning - burnt orange sand, clays in salmon pink, creamy white, and dusky purple, and moss a minty tint of green.  The dusting of snow accentuated the details of the terrain.

Just before sunset, we turned back toward home, figuring the air temperature would drop pretty quickly once the sun dipped below the horizon.  We paddled northwest - out around Red #4, gasped at the strong ebbing current, and then northeast to land at our beach.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside

Dobbs and I launched our kayaks at the North East Town Park around 10am in order to wrap up before noon, which was when a winter storm was slated to arrive.  We paddled southeast, exploring the canals along the shore and appreciating architecture and creativity, while also marveling at the time period when these canals were allowed to be dredged.  

Sure enough, as we were loading our kayaks onto the roof our our truck, snow began to fall! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

34 degrees, wind NE 5-10

Cold outside, but snuggly in kayak.  Paddled 20 minutes west toward the Flats and then back, at the end of a long day working in Middle River and then delivering sails to Annapolis.  Hazy, so only a couple stars visible through the mist.

Monday, December 14, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

37 degrees, wind northwest, Small Craft Advisory

Launched kayak through the surf at Red Point Beach and paddled up to Cara Cove and back.

Sunday, December 13, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • The Pea Green Boat
  • Concord Point Lighthouse

Dobbs and I launched The Pea Green Boat at the Havre de Grace City Marina ($10) with the intention of sailing to the Sand Island and back, but a Small Craft Advisory altered our plan - too windy!  We tried sailing under reefed main, but our reefing system needs to have reefing ties added to it.  Without them, much of the reefed portion of the sail is still able to catch wind like a low-slung spinnaker (ever heard of a blooper?).  Sailing felt plain dangerous, and when the water and air temperature are both 40-50 degrees is no time to try risky things. 

Instead, refusing defeat, we doused the sail and rowed along the Havre de Grace waterfront north to the bridge piling ruins.  For the ride back, we hoisted just the tiny jib and did really well.  Pea Green moved steadily along, and our confidence increased.  We zipped out around a moored rock barge before heading into the marina.  We had fun! 

Saturday, December 12, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Wide Angle Challenging on Short Boat...
  • To the Flats!
  • Sails Blushing Rose in the Sunset

Around 2pm, Dobbs and I launched The Pea Green Boat at Red Point Beach and sailed until sunset - west for 2.25 miles out onto the Flats, where we overtook a huge flock of tundra swans, and back via Red #4 (port rounding).

Friday, December 11, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Happiness

Dobbs and I kayaked off Red Point Beach at sunset.  Where to go?  As former racers, we have a deep seated need to round something before turning back.  This summer, the Coast Guard re-marked and re-numbered the Northeast River channel (OUR channel) and took away Green Can #5, our precious local marker - the one we'd circled in Sunfish and kayaks, and watched bobbing in gales and back-dropped by sunsets, and even trapped to stillness in ice.  We admit it - it wasn't marking anything relative to a channel anymore - the channel had long since shifted, but STILL.  To the south of Red Point Beach, they swapped Red Nun #4 for a fixed, lighted red.  We'd been intentionally denying its existence, mourning the loss of Green #5.  Today, our racer instincts forced us to round Red #4 and officially welcome it into the family before returning to the beach.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • My Sweetheart and the Sunset
  • A Memory to See Me Through Winter

42 degrees, NW 10-15

After working at Two Rivers Yacht Basin on the Bohemia River, Dobbs and I launched off the beach and paddled across to Morgan Creek.  Morgan Creek looks inviting - we'd like to go back and explore.  Today, though, we ran out of time - the sun set beautifully as we paddled back across the river.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Greetings from Charlestown!

42 degrees, NW 10-15 with gusts to 25, sunny - beautiful!

Dobbs and I launched at Charlestown's Battery Park beach and paddled south to the first dredged canal and back.

Monday, December 7, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Looking east from the kayak launch at Perryville Town Park
  • The railroad tunnel south of Principio Furnace

42 degrees, NW 5-10 with gusts to 20, sunny

In reviewing the hunting schedule, I noticed that there's a break in waterfowl hunting between 11/27 and 12/15.  We could safely and serenely go birdwatching in Furnace Bay, our favorite spot to do so.  Despite seeing tundra swans, geese, a ruddy duck, buffleheads, mergansers, herons, eagles, and more, I don't have a single good photo to share.  It takes me sufficiently long to remove my overgloves and insulated gloves and reach through my life preserver and into my jacket pocket for the camera, that the wary birds are flying away long before I frame a shot.  That's okay - their flight is their protection, and their beauty is in my memory.  You'll just have to visit Furnace Bay and see for yourself!

Sunday, December 6, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

42 degrees, wind northwest 5-10 knots with gusts to 20, clear

Dobbs and I launched The Pea Green Boat at the Charlestown boat ramp and rowed up to what some call Track Beach - the sandy shore backed by the berm for the Amtrack line.  We rowed through the southernmost of two tunnels that run under the railroad and poked back into a marsh.  Being low tide, we couldn't go far before running aground.  We turned around and rowed back to the ramp.

Saturday, December 5, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Elk River Landing

42 degrees, Gale Warning, dry

Dobbs and I launched our kayaks at Elk River Landing and paddled north on the Elk River.  It's an amazingly beautiful area, with cattail marsh lit up golden by the sun, a stand of cypress, and a shoreline dotted sparsely with homes and the remains of industry long gone.  We paddled north past the old Trojan plant and mused at how the basin has shoaled to less than a foot deep.  Trojan Yachts moved here with the town of Elkton's promise that they'd keep the channel dredged, but they never made good and Trojan took their leave years ago.  Approaching Little Elk Creek, we turned south into the gut that flows through the marsh down to White Hall Point.  From White Hall Point, we crossed the Elk and headed north, back to the ramp.

Thursday, December 3, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Looking up Main Street from Market Slip

We had a sail delivery to make at North Sails, which seemed the perfect opportunity to kayak in Annapolis.  We put in McNasby's/Annapolis Maritime Museum and paddled around to Spa Creek.  We could have paddled up Back Creek - we were right there - but, being away from our lake-like home waters, we wanted some wave action.  Once in Spa Creek, we paddled up Market Slip and then back to the beach at Annapolis Maritime Museum.  We topped off an already fine day with a visit to Davis' Pub for crab pretzels and beer.  Kudos to Davis' for their new outdoor, very well-spaced seating area, as well as to our waitress who, despite being chilly visiting us outside, was wonderfully friendly and attentive.   

Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • View from the Kayak Launch at North East Town Park
  • North East's Local Duck Flock
  • Looking South from Near Route 7

51 degrees, wind west-southwest at 15-25 knots, sunny & dry

Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • A Great Way to Celebrate My Birthday
  • Golden Grass and Blue Sky
  • Hoping to See an Otter (unfulfilled)
  • The Serenity of Marsh Stretching to the Horizon

46 degrees, wind west-southwest at 15-25, sunny and dry.  Celebrating the beginning of my 44th year today!

Sunday, November 22, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • 'Til 2021

Dobbs and I invited Bev and Brad, our neighbors from across the street, to join us for an afternoon sail.  There was just enough wind (east at 5-10 knots) to keep it interesting as we sailed north, rounded Red 16 (which may now be Red 14...channel re-numbering...), and wafted south past Charlestown.

Bev and Brad were great company and we all had fun talking while working the boat together.  We returned to the dock at 4pm, bid our friends adieu, and began breaking Grace down for haul-out.  We pulled off the headsail and put Coquille on the dinghy rack.

Monday, October 12, 2020 to Friday, November 20, 2020
Number of days:
34 days
  • Skipjack Restoration, Scott's Cove Marina
  • Beautiful Moon Over Mill Creek
  • Sailing Down Eastern Bay

From San Domingo Creek, my husband Dobbs and I, aboard our Columbia 31, explored our way down the Bay for the next 33 days.  We visited several small isolated communities of working watermen.  It was a dream fulfilled for us; in fact, even more than we'd hoped for.  Read about Hoopers Island, Chance, Deal Island, Crisfield, Janes Island, Smith Island, Onancock, and Gwynn's Island on our blog, Sailing Gracefully.

Sunday, October 11, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Motoring in Calm up San Domingo Creek
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Please help me right this image! Coquille on Hambleton Island, Broad Creek off the Choptank.
Friday, October 9, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Dobbs prepares to dock in Knapps Narrows
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Sharps Island Light
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Coquille in Dividing Creek
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • View from John & Susanne's Lookout
Monday, October 5, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Grace in Tilghman Creek
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Preparing for Shore Leave
Saturday, October 3, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Sunset at Still Pond
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

If you think moving a full-keeled sailboat from one slip to another shouldn't qualify as a boating trip, you should try it!  Make sure there's a breeze blowing, too.  Since we don't have our regular slip this season, we're having to move around as slips come available.  As we motored clear of our slip and toward the bank on the other side of the narrow channel, we used a long spring line to bring Grace's bow around to starboard.  Then, we motored past the new slip and used a spring line to warp in stern-first.  Whew!

Monday, September 28, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

Rowed out to Grace on mooring to make minor repairs and apply caulk and Kiwi Grip to stern deck.  Coquille, my dinghy, gets to be the Century Club vessel of the day!

Monday, September 28, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

I don't like having Grace on a mooring, but I do like the added opportunity for rowing.  Dobbs rowed us out to Grace and we brought her in to a slip for Dave Miller to work on the custom boarding ladder he's building for us.  Boat ride!

Friday, September 25, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Still Morning at Still Pond
Tuesday, September 22, 2020 to Thursday, September 24, 2020
Number of days:
3 days
  • Gunkholing Mill Creek off Worton Creek
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • Turner Creek Landing
Monday, September 14, 2020
Number of days:
8 days

This was a boat yard summer for our 1966 Columbia 31.  I can assure you we have a lot more than 10 days involved, but I'll assign 8 days to the following:

1. Replaced the engine.

2. Replaced all 4 opening portlights.

3. Re-painted the hull.

4. Installed a new stern pulpit.

5. Replaced the stern locker hatch.

6. Re-habbed our 7' dinghy to get another couple years out of her (she was built as a design test - a temporary...and is now 7 years old!).

7. Acquired commercial documentation.

8. Repaired and repainted the bottom.

Tomorrow is launch day!

Friday, August 14, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

Dobbs and I had planned to sail on Sunday, but the weather forecast was beginning to look damp.  We took advantage of a beautiful Friday night with a gentle breeze to waft in The Pea Green Boat from our beach at Red Point over to Charlestown and back.  The Coast Guard has stolen our green can bouy!  They've re-marked the Northeast River, and suddenly home looks different.  We are learning the new path.

Thursday, August 6, 2020
Number of days:
1 day
  • The African Queen
  • Approaching the Holiday Inn Marina
  • Getting Underway
  • A Day to Remember!
  • Charlie & Rosie with a miniature African Queen, Halloween 2019

I recognize that the Bogart/Hepburn classic "The African Queen" has not a single sailboat in it, but to me it feels like a sailing, or perhaps more a cruising, movie.  I love the story of the unlikely pair coming together for a trip down the Ulanga/Bora River to take on the Germans in their small craft.  Mr. Allnutt can't deny Rose her avenging adventure and Rose comes to realize that life is best when it's lived fully, in all its messy, exhausting, exhiliarating complexity.

I have a personal connection to the boat, too, in that I got to be her helmsman for a short trip from her dock at the Holiday Inn in Key Largo out to the ocean and back.  It was a day to remember forever...

From my log, January 25th, 2000:  

"I piloted the African Queen!!  (Jump, wave arms, shake bottom.)  Up bright and early, bid our farewell to Matt, and motoring S to Holiday Harbor.  We have made arrangements with the dockmaster to tuck "Whimsey" (our 1971 Venture 22) in a little "non-slip" just behind the Queen, so that we may ride on her.  Arrived exactly at 11am in true Charlie and Rosie style, with everyone onboard the Queen watching us in fascination.  I think our ship-mates fancied the idea of having a real-life cruising couple in their company.  Purchased our tickets and met with the captain, 72-year-old Jim Hendricks - a kindly fellow with a gentle smile and tales and tales of his adventures with the "African Queen", picture albums, and letters to and from Katharine Hepburn.  We sat and talked for a while as the steam in the boiler built.  Everyone wanted to hear about our adventures more so than the "African Queen".  Slowly, steadily, we puttered away from the dock.  I sniffled and my heart felt warm at the thought of finally finding this esteemed craft.  I wondered to myself if the captain might not let me take her tiller for just a second.  Dobbs looked pleased with his position in the bow, smiling back at me.  About half way out, midway into a conversation with another couple, the captain turned to me, placed my hand on the tiller and said, "You know how to do this - take her out!"  And so I became to pilot the "African Queen", out to the ocean, around the second marker, and back to rest at the dock.  At $8 million offering price, she's probably also the most expensive boat I'll ever find myself steering!  an incredible experience I will NEVER forget..."

Then, this past year, our yacht club, Hances Point Yacht Club, had a Halloween party where we were to come as favorite past movie actors...

However, if The African Queen won't pass muster as a sailing movie, then I'll claim "The Mercy" with Colin Firth.  It certainly gave me a different perspective than the one I'd previously maintained on Donald Crowhurst's experience in the 1968 Golden Globe Race.  It's easy to pass judgement on him until we're fully immersed in his situation; then, we're able to acknowlege our shared vulnerability. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

Dobbs and I kayaked off Red Point Beach 1.75 miles out onto the Flats.  The late afternoon was overcast and calm.  Crossing the Northeast River, water clarity/visibility was about two feet.  On the Flats, we turned around a half-mile shy of my summer snorkeling waypoints with no sign of improved water clarity.  Seagulls floated in flocks.  We heard "coo-hoos" in the distance, the call of tundra swans, I think.

Sunday, February 23, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

Dobbs and I returned the following day to take more photos and look more carefully at things that caught our attention.


Sunday, February 9, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

Read Sailing The Pea Green Boat on "Sailing Gracefully" at waldenrigging.com.

Saturday, February 8, 2020
Number of days:
1 day

Read Kayaking Spa Creek on "Sailing Gracefully" at www.waldenrigging.com.

Saturday, January 4, 2020 to Sunday, January 5, 2020
Number of days:
2 days

I haven't been counting yard days toward my goal because I thought they felt too similiar to work.  This past weekend convinced me that sometimes they're not.  Right now Dobbs and I are working on quality of living improvements on our 1966 Columbia 31: Encouraging the composting process of the head and fixing long-standing leaks that let in rainwater.  A difference between working on our own boat versus clients' boats is that we can work at a relaxed pace if we want to.  If, like on Saturday morning, I want to spend an hour practicing baseball stitch, and then ultimately use a different stitch to sew leather chafe guards on the dock lines, I can!  It feels good to let my brain and hands explore the process.  I sat in the cockpit, working in the sun, even though the day was cool and windy.