Cruising on Last Dance

This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chesapeake Bay -- Maritime History

The history of the water is important to the inhabitants of the Chesapeake -- they catalog it and share it through museums.   At Solomon’s Island, the county has funded the Calvert Marine Museum, a large facility with a wide variety of historical displays.

At the mouth of the Patuxent River, which leads to Solomon’s Island, Drum Point protrudes into the river.  To mark the entrance to the river and to keep mariner’s off the shoal, a lighthouse was built on the point.  It is referred to as a screw-pile lighthouse because the steel pilings supporting the lighthouse were screwed into the bay bottom.  The history of the lighthouse has been preserved by the Calvert Museum by moving the lighthouse to the museum property.

The lighthouse was built with living quarters for the lighthouse keeper and his family.  Since the light was originally powered by kerosene, the lighthouse keeper had to be present at all times to keep the light burning.  The small house was divided into a number of living spaces.

The rooms are quite small, but were unbelievably tiny considering the long-term lighthouse keeper and his wife had 10 kids living at the lighthouse.

The light was amplified by a Fresnel lens.   The light was transmitted in two colors, white and red, to give the mariner the direction he was in relation to the light.  The different colors were created by sheets of red glass mounted inside the lighthouse windows.

When the fog was too thick for the light to penetrate, a hand-cranked mechanism would throw a spring-loaded hammer through the wall into a bell, to warn mariners by sound.

Boats of all varieties were on display.  Below are two dug-out canoes, an early version, and a later, more artistic version.  The large boat is a Buy Boat, where crabbers or oystermen would take their catch to sell, then the Buy Boat would take the consolidated catches to a processing plant on shore.

The buildings housed full-size boats and many models, from small crabbing skiffs to large passenger steamships.

Numerous old engines that powered boats had been restored and were on display, always a favorite for Glen.

The history of sea life of the Chesapeake was on display.  A prehistoric shark skeleton had been reconstructed at actual size.

Our tour of the museum was not completed and the time was approaching for the museum to close.  As a man walked toward us, we expected to get an announcement that it was time to leave – instead, he asked: “Would you like a behind the scenes tour?”   Of course, we took advantage of his offer and gained a greater insight into the museum's displays.  Douglass Alves has been the director of the museum for decades and had a wealth of knowledge to share.  He provided additional information on the current threats to the Chesapeake from pollution, misuse, and invasive species of plant and animal life.  Jill particularly enjoyed visiting with the Otters, which are only on display for short periods as their active times do not coincide with museum hours.

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels

On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the town of St. Michael hosts an even larger museum.  The entry to the museum begins the history display with the bridge that spanned the Tilghman narrows for many years.

A different feature of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is the focus on wooden boat building and restoration.   A combination of full-time staff and volunteers rebuild old boats so they may continue to display the work and pleasure boats that plied the waters of the Bay.  Mister Jim is a Chesapeake Buy Boat that is undergoing restoration.

The museum also continues the skills of wooden boat building, using the process and tools of the times to build replicas of historical boats.  These boats are not for display; they are intended to be used as working or pleasure boats.  There was a crabbing skiff approaching the final stages of construction and a smaller crabbing skiff that was just finished.  Since they are working boats, reliability and dependability are issues, so modern engines are employed.

Long-term volunteers get the opportunity to build boats that they will own when completed.  One of the volunteers was in the final stages of building a wooden canoe, which weighed less than 15 pounds.

Racing has always been a part of boating and was on display in St. Michaels.

Tangier Island

There is living history on Tangier Island, actually a group of small islands in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, just below the Virginia/Maryland border.  The Island was settled by English immigrants who have made their living from crabbing.  Isolation on the island has preserved many of their ancestral ways, including an Old English dialect.  The only marina on the Island is Park’s Marina, owned and operated by Mr. Parks.  Everyone calls him “Mr. Parks” and he calls all men “Clarence.”  Mr. Parks was a crabber for over 65 years and a stay at the marina includes a guided tour of the entire island on his gas-powered golf cart.  The highest point on Tangier Island is 4 feet above sea level.  The island is sinking and the water levels are rising, so the life of the Island is threatened.   An island farther north, Holland Island, once had farms, hotels, businesses.  As the island began disappearing into the Bay, one homeowner held on for the hope that he would be able to maintain his home on the Island.  In 2010, the Bay finally claimed the last building, his home.

Photographic images of Tangier Island, Mr. Parks, and the Tangier Island Museum would be most appropriate here, but the digital images somehow disappeared.  Technology can be our friend or our most frustrating experience.  To share some of the current concerns of Tangier Island, a link to a YouTube video is below.  Thanks to Bob and Kemba DeGroot for locating this link.

No comments: