In search of green waters

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes – *SBFL 1 – PLANNED – Here in the midst of winter in the upper Chesapeake Bay, with nighttime temperatures dropping down as far as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, I started planning my first stop of the Slow Boat to Florida (a.k.a. SBFL) round-trip journey. (See my blog post: SBFL – Slow Boat to Florida.) I estimate I will do 30 or more stops by the time I come back home to SBFL 0, perhaps after 6 months or so. Ambitious — maybe or maybe not, we’ll see.

One of my two inspirations for this journey is a 1958 National Geographic essay titled, “Slow Boat to Florida,” by the late Dorothea and Stuart E. Jones. Hence, the title of my SBFL blog postings. They did the 1,100-mile ICW trip from Annapolis, Maryland, to Florida with their sailboat, Tradewinds, a 35-foot Ketch, back in 1958. I will be doing my trip with my 26-foot SeaRay Sundancer power boat, Life’s AOK.
I would like to compare my target year of departure 2020 to 1958 and see how much, if any, life on the shorelines has changed over the past 60 years. I will measure my progress not by how much and how fast I went on the journey, but by how many interesting stops I made during my journey, by the people I met, and the locations that I visited.

Maryland State House-Photo by Maryland State Archives 2007

As I mention in one of my previous blog posts, I am a fair-weather pleasure boater who sticks as close as possible to the shoreline. Although I am okay with some exceptions for a relatively short period of time, I need to have a line of sight to land at all times. Based on my personal rule of going no more than 100 miles a day and definitely in good weather only, I am guessing that my round trip boating journey to Florida will take about 6 months or so. Talk about a Slow Boat to Florida, right? Hence, the title of my related blog posts always starts with SBFL and shows my planned stop number, as in this article. I intend to stick to my detailed plans that I am posting here; however, I also intend to approach my plans with flexibility. I may add or subtract last-minute locations based on new findings during stop-over visits, fuel availability, weather, great marinas, great accommodations, or other factors that I can’t think of right now. Once I am on the journey, you may feel like you are following the one-time popular kids’ TV show, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. It will not be by design, but mostly luck, while I am trying to stick to my plans. By the way, one thing that I want you to keep in mind is that you, too, can follow and visit the locations on my planned route, even if you don’t have a boat or prefer not to use one. Yes, simply just drive there. Perhaps we may bump into each other one day and say hello.

On their first day of journey, the Jones’ sailed out into the Severn River on which Annapolis sits. They wrote, “When we cleared the river mouth, we found the Bay is still boisterous. Short, steep seas sent icy salt spray flying over us. Green water broke across the bow, swirled aft along the deck.”
Wait… did the Jones’ say “green waters” around Annapolis? I am not sure where it starts but I recall seeing green waters way, way down the Bay, perhaps about 75 nautical miles down the Bay around Smith and Tangier
Islands or so. The change was hard not to notice; I loved the look of it. Okay, I am definitely taking note of searching the Bay watercolors while going down, to see where the green waters begin when I do my SBFL trip. For now, I will not make any reference to the color of the waters in the northern part of the Bay. Thanks to the efforts of many organizations, as well as state, federal and local governments, the water in the Maryland
portion of the Bay is now relatively okay, but certainly is not great, and definitely not green as it was in 1958.
Back in 1958, after leaving the Severn River in Annapolis, the Jones’ sailed down the Bay. Due to bad weather, they could not cover much distance with their sailboat and ended up in Galesville, Maryland, where they noted a seafood packing and boat building port.
On my first day of the journey, I plan to start tracking from my 0 Milestone, Baltimore Harbour Light and go down to Galesville to see if that seafood packing plant is still there. Galesville (population 684 in 2010) is located at 38°50′ North, 76°32′ West, along the western shore of the West River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay.

A new addition on the Eastern Shore of the Bay

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay

After a quick stopover, I will head down to the Choptank River, to the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina located in Cambridge, Maryland. I will go about 35 nautical miles. The marina’s name is the River Marsh Marina, located at 38° 33° 89° N / 76° 08° 78° W. It is set 11 nautical miles inside the Choptank River on the grounds of the beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel. 

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay

An excellent  alternative is the Cambridge Municipal Yacht Basin having easy access to the downtown Cambridge. It is located at 38° 34′ 34.6944” N / 76° 4′ 27.5448” W.  

(I must mention that there are two Choptank Rivers — if you are going there by water, don’t get lost. The first one heading south is the Choptank River and after that the other is called the Little Choptank River.)

In 1958, the Jones’ did not stop over in the Choptank River and Cambridge, and the Hyatt marina and hotel were yet to be built. Instead, they went down to Solomons (a.k.a. Solomons Island). Solomons is a popular weekend destination spot in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.

“America’s Inland Waterway,” published in 1973 by Allan C. Fisher, Jr., is the second of my two journey reference materials that inspired my dream of undertaking the Atlantic ICW boat trip. To compare his impressions of his Chesapeake Bay destinations, I intend to do weekend overnighters to Eastern Shore spots this year and to compare his impressions of 1973 with mine in 2019. I’ll talk about them separately, not as a part of the SBFL series.

I hope to say hello to you if you spot me on one of my locations that I will be visiting.

6 things I learned

  • Plan, plan and plan again.
  • If you are planning a trip on the water, make sure to plan and orient yourself with the maps fully before you head out.
  • Make sure to plan for starting with a full tank of fuel. If you are a power boater like myself, plan your distance for how far you can go on a half tank of gas, leaving a half tank as a contingency backup.
  • Ask around and try to select known, established, busy marinas with fuel at which to stop over to make sure that you can buy quality fresh fuel that does not contain water. This will help you to avoid on-the-water issues and costly engine repairs.
  • Make sure that marinas that offer fuel are open during your arrival dates and time period and fill up your fuel tank as soon as you arrive.
  • Make sure to file your trip plan with your friends and check in daily, before you leave and after you arrive, to assure your safety.

1 thing I recommend

  • Be it by boat or by land, I encourage you to visit and check out the locations where I will be stopping over.

How easy?

Have you traveled on the Chesapeake Bay portion of the Atlantic ICW within the years of 2018 or 2019? If so, can you recommend any marinas you liked, that had great accommodations and fresh fuel?

*SBFL stands for Slow Boat to Florida. It is a series of my blog posts, which started with a posting that had the same title.  Each numbered heading has two parts. The first is “Planned,” and when we visit the planned location, a “Visited” label appears at the beginning, next to SBFL. The essence of this series is not to seek new lands and exotic cultures. Rather, it is to cover our journey of discovery (hence the title of our blog Trips Of Discovery) that has to do with seeing with a new eye the coastal locations of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) where present-day America started to flourish. The SBFL series represents part travel, part current and historical anthropological highlights of selected locations and coastal life.  We’re comparing then and now, based on observations made by Dorothea and Stuart E. Jones in their 1958 National Geographic article titled, “Slow Boat to Florida” and a 1973 book published by National Geographic, titled America’s Inland Waterway (ICW) by Allan C. Fisher, Jr. We also take a brief look at the history of the locations that I am writing about. Finally, we bundle it up with our observations during our actual visits to the locations and our interviews with local residents. Think of it as a modest time capsule of past and present. My wife and I hope that you, too, can visit the locations that we cover, whether with your boat or by car. However, if that is not in your bucket list to do, enjoy reading our plans and actual visits as armchair travelers anyway. Also, we would love to hear from you on any current or past insights about the locations that I am visiting. Drop me a note, will you?

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