Visiting Baltimore and we damage a propeller
42 Days Looping
838.0 Nautical Miles Total (964.4 Statute Miles)
138.8 Nautical Miles This Week
12.4 Hours Underway This Week
10.2 NMph Average Speed
0 Locks This Week, 2 Total Locks
Monday – May 20th – 0 NM – In: Baltimore, MD
On Monday we spent the day sightseeing in Baltimore. The water taxis that go to Fort McHenry, don’t start running until 11:00, so we slept in a bit, then walked to the main waterfront area by the Aquarium. As we walked, we looked at some of the ships on display. Coast Guard Cutters, Light Ships, Subs, Sailing Ships, all very interesting. We stopped and had some breakfast, then wandered through the shops along the inner harbor, until the taxis started running. The taxi stop was underwater due to a very high tide, and there was no notice. When the time for the taxi arrived, someone mentioned that they move the pick-up to the Aquarium (about 2,000 ft away) when the water is high, so we quickly stepped over there to catch the taxi. The first taxi took us to the Fells area (where we went to “The Horse You Came In On”, and then we transferred to the Fort McHenry taxi.
The trip to Fort McHenry only took about 15 minutes and went along the same waterfront that we came in on when we arrive in Baltimore, but not having to watch for traffic, figure out the route, and prepare to dock, it was much more enjoyable. We arrived at Fort McHenry, went through the Visitors Center, then walked up the hill to the fort. The fort has been “restored” to the approximate state that it was during the War of 1812 when Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner during the bombardment. Since then fort grew considerably and during World War I it was a large veterans hospital covering almost the entire point.
We looked at the exhibits, walked around the top of the fort, and along the waterfront, which gives a great view of the harbor.
The day was very hot and humid, so after we walked around the point, we jumped back on the water taxi and headed back to the boat to cool down a bit. On the way, we stopped off at the Hard Rock Cafe for a drink, and to get a collector pin. The Hard Rock is inside a converted power plant!
In the evening, we walked up to a British Style Pub about a block from the marina, had a nice dinner, then turned in for the night.
Tuesday – May 21st – 0 NM – In: Baltimore, MD
Tuesday was another sightseeing day in Baltimore. We walked 2 1/2 miles to the Museum of Industry on the other side of the harbor. On the way we stopped at the American Visionary Art Museum which had some very interesting modern art sculptures, including a 3 story tall stainless steel bird, tending her “nest”, which was a balcony in the top level of the museum.
We then climbed Federal Hill, which is the tallest point in Baltimore, and was natural clay bluffs. Being the highest point, it has held an important role in Baltimore’s history, from being the last stand against the British troops during the Battle of Baltimore to having cannons pointed at US citizens during the Civil War to prevent succession.
From there we walked along the waterfront to the Museum of Industry, which is in an old canning factory. The Museum showcases major industrial innovations from Baltimore over the history of the city. From the commercialization of canning in the oyster industry to the invention of the Linotype machine for printing, and innovations in machining, the automotive industry, electricity, the radio, aviation, and having the largest steel mill in the US. And of course, Domino Sugars which is right next door. We’ve seen some great museums on the trip, but so far, this is our favorite!
After visiting the museum, we stopped at a waterfront Cuban restaurant for lunch, then hiked the 2.5 miles back to the boat. Brenda took a nap, and I caught up on my YouTube videos. In the evening, we walked up to the Italian district, and had dinner at the “Italian Disco”, we didn’t know quite what to expect given the name, but it was excellent!
Wednesday – May 22nd – 0 NM – BACK To: Baltimore, MD
Wednesday was a nice day, and we headed out of Baltimore Harbor toward the C&D canal. Our plan was to see how the day progressed and stop at one of three locations at the north end of the Chesapeake. As we were pulling out of our slip, we had to wait for a flotilla of geese to pass by, then we left the inner harbor, and past Fort McHenry headed toward the Francis Scott Key bridge. We were cruising along, watching the large boats and suddenly we heard and felt a large “BUMP!” followed almost immediately by a “CLUNK, CLUNK!”
I immediately put the boat into neutral and we looked behind us to see what we might have hit, we didn’t see anything right away, then we could just see a large timber bob up as the waves went over it. I put the boat back into gear to see what, if any damage resulted. We didn’t feel anything at a low RPM, so we slowly turned around to find what we’d hit. We were able to pull up alongside it and saw that it was a 10″ x 10″ x 8-foot long timber sort of like a railroad tie. We could see where the propeller had taken a chunk out of the end.
We looked behind us and a large container ship was heading up the channel, so we headed back toward the bridge, and increased speed keeping an extra sharp look-out. (I don’t know that even if we had been looking hard before that we would have seen it as it was floating about 3 inches below the surface.) Once we increased to 1800 RPM it became obvious that we’d done something to the port propeller as there was a slight vibration. I went down into the engine room to check that there were no leaks, and to evaluate the level of vibration. It was not too bad, and we decided to continue and see if we could find a boatyard ahead that could pull us out to deal with the propeller. We made a few calls, but due to the impending Memorial Day weekend, the soonest that anyone north could take us was Tuesday. Also, as we increased RPM to 2000, the vibration became very noticeable and we didn’t want to do more damage by running for a long distance.
I looked on Google and found a boatyard in Baltimore, just a few miles away, and called them. They said they would take us in, and try to pull the boat that day, either way, we could stay at the marina. So, we turned around and headed back to Baltimore to Tidewater Yacht Service. Tidewater is very near Fort McHenry, and we pulled into the marina. Kurt one of the owners met us and directed us into a slip. We checked in and discussed the plan. There were two other boats in front of us for the lift, so we just sat around on the boat, waiting.
Around 4:00, our turn came and we drove the boat to the travel lift. They hauled us out, and it was pretty obvious that the port propeller would need to be repaired. The yard staff had the prop off in a few minutes, and they put the boat back into the water so that we could sleep on it until the propeller came back. We were able to back the boat back into our slip with just one engine (now I know how our single screw friends feel!) and we tied up for the night.
Tidewater Boatyard is in a very industrial area with huge navy transports on one side and a power plant on the other. However, we were happy to find that right next door was a newly built Rye Whisky Distillery with a restaurant! We walked to the “Sagamore Spirit Tavern” (there is a private path from the end of the dock, to the distillery), and had an excellent dinner.
Thursday – May 23nd – 0 NM – In: Baltimore, MD
Thursday was a down day waiting for the props to be returned from the repair shop so we slept in a bit. When we walked down the dock in the morning, we saw a couple of critters sunning themselves on the sea wall!
(click images to enlarge)
At 11:00 we went back to the Sagamore Distillery to take the tour. The distillery was a neat experience. Brenda had not seen a distillery since we were in Scotland, And for me, it was interesting to compare the Kentucky Bourbon train distilleries that I had seen with my friend Dave Harmond-Vaught, with a built to make money distillery here in Baltimore. The Rye Whiskey they produce is pretty tasty, but most of the “history” is made up. They CLAIM, 1909, but that’s just when some farmer put a house over a spring on a horse farm (probably to keep the horses from peeing in it), not when they actually started distilling (which was 2018 at some massive production distillery). Still, the buildings and operation here in Baltimore are very nice, someone sunk TONS of money into it! More on location in a bit.
After the distillery tour, we walked to the local Harris Teeter grocery store, about a mile away, did some shopping then went back to the boat. I had been wanting to refinish the teak on the back deck and had bought a quart of teak finish before we left, so I went out and put a coat on the back deck. I was just finishing up when we got a big downpour. Fortunately, I was on the last section right in front of the door, so was fairly protected. The rain didn’t last long, and the sun came back out and dried the deck off enough so that we could cook dinner on the grill, then turned in hoping for a repaired prop, and a noonish departure on Friday.
For the last two days, we had been seeing tanker trucks roll on and off of one of the big Navy Ships at the end of the pier. It appears they are cleaning out tanks or the bilge as we saw 4 trucks a day roll on and off the boat.
Friday – May 24th – 0 NM – STILL In: Baltimore, MD
On Friday morning we checked in with the boatyard to get a status update on the propeller. The manager (who we hoped would pick up the prop on his way into the office) didn’t show up until 10. When he did, we were told that the propeller was not repairable! O.M.G!!!! They put it on a laser machine and the bend was such that it could not deal with it. (Also I think being metric also threw them for a loop) So, we called the manufacturer, Beneteau to see if we could get one. Beneteau’s parts department is in Marion, SC and we were prepared to drive “home” to get the prop if need be. When we talked to Beneteau parts, we found out that they didn’t have one in the US and needed to order it from France…. 8 weeks! (Good thing there was a distillery next door, I needed to run a garden hose from the still to the boat!). I called my repair guy Michael at A&M Marine in Georgetown SC and told him the story. He was shocked that the prop could not be straightened, and immediately got to work to source 3rd party props through his contacts.
About 12:30, there was a knock on the side of the boat. It was Kurt the boatyard manager. Seems that he got on the phone with the owner of the propeller shop, and they gave the prop to the “Old Guy” who could do it by hand since the “Kid on the laser machine” couldn’t do it. It was done, and would be at the boat by 1:30!!!! Woo Hoo! One of the dock-hands volunteered to go pick it up for us. While we were waiting, they pulled the boat back out of the water and James the lift operator/mechanic offered to install some “line cutters” (round blades that mount behind the propeller so that if you accidentally run over a lobster pot, crab pot, or a fishnet, the blade cuts through the line and it doesn’t foul your prop up) that I bought a month or so ago. Just as we were finishing up the line cutters, the prop arrived, three of the crew worked to get it installed. Gi
Side Note: There are still people who care about the customer! The crew at Tidewater was fantastic, Kurt the manager, James the lift operator, and a number of the mechanics worked to get us back in the water on the Friday before labor day. This was great service! We later found out that on Thursday afternoon, they all found out that as of July, they are out of jobs as the marina property had been sold to the distillery, and the boatyard owners could not find any suitable place to move to, so were retiring. For an entire team to go out of their way for a transient repair on a holiday weekend when they had just been told they were out of a job the day before is amazing. Hats off to a GREAT team. We wish them the best in finding new roles.
When the repaired prop was on the boat and we were back in the water, we took the boat out into the harbor for a spin to make sure that everything was working correctly (which it was!), then came back to the marina for the night as it was too late to go anywhere else (and it was also very windy).
We re-docked the boat, breathed a sigh of relief, the bill “ONLY” came to $1,500 which included 3 nights of docking, the prop repair, and the two haul-outs. While expensive, we thought it very fair given the holiday weekend and the rush job.
In the evening we walked to Nick’s Fish House which was about a mile from the marina for a seafood dinner. We were expecting a small place, but it’s very large with a boat in dock. We had to wait 45 minutes for a table, but the food was good. We walked back to the boat and prepared for an early departure.
Saturday – May 25th – 43.1 NM – To: Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbor, MD
Saturday morning, we headed back out of Baltimore, this time crawling along, and keeping an eagle eye out for debris in the water. When we made it out into the bay and could see the Bay Bridge, we breathed a sigh of relief and brought the throttles up a bit. We’d escaped Baltimore!
We headed northwest, toward the C & D canal, and Bohemia Yacht Harbor, our next stop. The wind was blowing from the east, so we had waves on our side which makes the boat rock uncomfortably. We decided to head straight across the bay into the wind, and then when we were in more protected waters on the Eastside, we headed north again. Overall the trip was pretty uneventful, we saw some more lighthouses, (they are starting to become as common as squirrels) and pulled into Bohemia Bay around 1:00. The good news is that the repaired propeller worked flawlessly!
The “Dock Girls” (it seems they only hire girls to man the docks and fuel pumps) got us refueled and tied up. There were two other Loopers already there, “Cats & Dogs” and “As You Wish”, and Foster and Susan, the “Harbor Hosts of the Year”, are based in this marina and were there to greet us. Brenda wasn’t feeling well, we thought it was the rolling waves from the morning, so she took a nap, and I did a couple of loads of laundry. At 5:00 we met with the other Loopers and the Harbor Hosts Foster & Susan for docktails at the marina recreation center. W chatted for about an hour, then went back to the boat. Bohemia Bay is 10 miles from the nearest city (Chesapeake City) and that is where all of the local restaurants are. Too far to walk or ride the bikes, but there are several that deliver to the marina, so we ordered some subs and chicken wings, and settled in for the night.
Sunday – May 26th – 43.1 NM – To: Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbor, MD
Sunday morning the marina has a brunch that starts at 9:00. We decided to skip it and get on the water early to avoid the Memorial day weekend chaos, and to give us time to decide if we would head down the Delaware Bay to Cape May NJ if the weather was good. We pulled out at 8:30 and headed into the C & D canal which is a major shipping canal that connects the upper Chesapeake Bay, with the Delaware Bay. We had heard that there was a lot of debris in the canal so were watching, but, 30 minutes into our trip, “Bump”, “Clunk”, and a 2 x 4 popped out from the back of the boat. Fortunately, there were no ill effects from this strike, and we slowed from 8 knots to 5 knots until we got into the canal proper.
The canal was very cool. There are lights along the entire length (not on as we were going through during the day), and it’s wide and very deep as large container and seagoing ships use it regularly. We didn’t meet any big ships but did see lots of floating sticks, branches, and the occasional tree-sized log, so we kept it slow through most of the canal. Halfway through, we passed Chesapeake City and went under the bridge, and our fellow Loopers from the night before were standing on the dock, waving as we went past. They were on the way to Walmart and Costco for a resupply run and stopped to watch us pass and take a few photos of us from the land side! We made it out of the C & D canal without indecent and into Delaware Bay.
The day before, we watched on our tracking apps as several boats left Deleware City (just north of the C&D canal exit) to go down Deleware Bay, headed for Cape May, NJ, and turned back. There were 9-foot waves reported on the lower bay near Cape May (We heard later that a sailboat lost its mast when it hit a large wave). When we came out of the C & D Canal, there was not a ripple in the water. We’ve used the term “like glass” before, and in this case, it was true. We decided to skip Delaware City and head straight for Cape May while we had a good weather window. We cranked the boat up to 20 knots, (23 MPH) and cruised toward Cape May. We couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The waves did increase as we headed south, but never exceeded 1 – 2 feet, and were spaced far apart, so it was a nice easy trip. Some of the smoothest water we’ve seen!
We passed several large commercial ships, a few sailboats, and 3 or 4 lighthouses. One in particular the “Miah Maull Shoal Lighthouse”, bears mention. We passed this lighthouse about 1/2 mile away from it. Lighthouses are built in shallow water and indicate areas to stay away from, so we took the advice, and keep our distance. It wasn’t far enough! As we got downwind, we smelled the bird guano! It was like a truckload of fish that had been sitting in the summer sun for 2-3 days, with ammonia dumped on it. Even at 1/2 mile, and going 23 mph, the smell stuck with us for 5 or 10 minutes. Horrible! Also, this is about the place where we crossed from Maryland into New Jersey, our 5th state!
At about 1:00 we reached the Cape May canal and slowed to let the Cape May Ferry pull out. The Ferry runs between Cape May, NJ, and Lewes, MD. We’d heard that we should give them a wide berth, as they are large, and stop for no one! As we were running slow, a pod of Dolphins popped up near the boat and played in our wake.
I’ve heard and experienced New Jersey drivers in the past. They are among the WORST in the world. Almost as bad as drivers in New Delhi India, which is the absolute worst I’ve ever seen! New Jersey Boaters, are by far, worse than ANY we’ve encountered so far! The 3 mile run up the Cape May Canal, was rougher than the entire Delaware Bay crossing just from the wakes of the idiots going at full throttle through the area. It’s my fault for going through on Memorial day weekend, but still! There is a rule that the area around bridges is a slow, no-wake (waves) zone. At one point there is a tall road bridge, followed immediately by a railroad bridge, that has a very narrow (30 foot) channel. So I was patient and waited till the traffic heading the other direction was through, then took my “turn”. There were not more than 8-10 ft on either side of my boat while going through, but some jerk in a large boat going at full throttle in the opposite direction thought he was going to go through at the same time! Geoff Gow, our training captain taught us that sometimes you have to turn into the path of an oncoming boat to let them know you mean business, playing chicken is not my idea of good boating etiquette, but I was already in the channel! It worked! He must have put that boat into full reverse, as he almost went sideways to avoid us. Hee, Hee, Hee! We made it into the South Jersey Marina without any further indecent. Tied up, and checked in. We walked across the street to an Antique shop and browsed around, but Brenda’s “discomfort” had gotten worse over the day. We think that she must have gotten some bad seafood at Nicks Fish House in Baltimore, so she went to bed (other details excluded for your reading enjoyment), and I walked across to a sub shop for some dinner.
About 11:00, a strong thunderstorm came through with heavy rain, lots of lightning, and wind. We had a large (100′ mast) sailboat across the dock from us so felt safe that we had a good lightning rod next to us. We didn’t get a great night’s sleep between the thunder and heavy rain on the deck above us.
Next Week: A few days in Cape May, NJ, then on the New York City!
Tom & Brenda