Monday, October 3, 2022
With Trawlerfest in our site, the cruise into Baltimore was an easy hop. Entering this shipping hub was enlivening: container ships were being lade, tiny-but-mighty tows pushed a huge freighter into the channel, military and industry and green space appeared separate, but in succession along the shore. We easily located Harbor East Marina, our landing spot while we are here, and we were expertly assisted by the marina manager, who cleated our lines, masterfully whipping them against the pier so that they caught the horns of the cleat, without his even bending over. We are between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point, in an upscale neighborhood with lovely shopping, a Whole Foods and a Haagen-Dasz parlor—what more could you want? Oh! The classes!
Over the course of three days, Steve and I attended courses on boat handling with classroom and hands-on components, boat-buying, and boat maintenance. Some of the content was very helpful, some of it review with a few pearls to pick up. An in-water trawler show concluded the event, and we went aboard a variety of boats from Ranger Tugs to a 65-foot Fleming (2009, still $2.3M). Red Pearl is slipped near the end of the boats in the show, and we fielded a lot of questions about Mainships, inviting a few guests aboard to have a look around.
Our hope to head out on Saturday was thwarted again by weather. Hurricane Ian, which whipped up so much destruction in Florida and the Carolinas still swirls just off the eastern seaboard, pulling down northerly winds and continued precipitation. We watch the weather and wind apps regularly, and the forecast for moderately comfortable cruising keeps extending further out. Sadly, we have cancelled plans with Steve’s sister and brother-in-law to join us for a few days this week due to our delays. The bonus is time to actually explore this historic city.
We visited the American Visionary Museum, dedicated to exhibition of the work of untrained artists. The exterior decoration is its WOW feature, mosaics in swirls of mirror and glass executed by at-risk teens. Inside we found such extraordinary variety—from live-tree sculpting, to an 1800-pound ball of bras, to a whimsical collection of mosaics and musings on farts, and a devise that visitors can step onto to produce a variety of “wind-making” noises! Viewing this unique collection made for a delightful afternoon.
We fed our souls, as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor performed Dvorâk 7 and collaborated with young Israeli pianist Tom Morrow in Mozart Concerto No. 24. It saddened us to see this fine orchestra, in its beautiful Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, play to a hall only half-full.
We ventured out on a cold afternoon in a bleak, constant drizzle to Fort McHenry, most famous for its inspiration of the American National Anthem during the War of 1812 against the British. When we entered the fort a docent asked how he could help us. I asked if he could make the sun shine, and he responded, “No, I can’t do that, but I can offer you a true historical experience, with weather as it was on September 14, 1814.” Francis Scott Key, a Baltimore Lawyer and conflicted slave holder, had boarded a British ship in the harbor during the British attack on Fort McHenry, to present papers for the release of Dr. Beane, a medical doctor who the British were holding. Successful in his mission, Key nonetheless was required to spend the night on the ship of the adversary, and was inspired at the sight of the flag still waving over the fort in the morning. As he penned a few lines, he imagined it sung to the tune, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” and when he returned home after the battle, he finished the four-verse poem. The piece immediately captured the hearts of citizens, but it wasn’t until 1931 that it officially became the National Anthem of the United States. As a matter of fact, the Stars and Stripes has been regarded in many different ways among Americans. The confederate states resented it, seeing it as a symbol of northern aggression. Others through the years have felt its representation of the “land of the free” to be an empty promise. Raised by pacifist parents, I was taught that the anthem glorified war and was discouraged from singing the words. I feel a sense of comfort with the knowledge that even the celebrated Francis Scott Key was conflicted in this moment of greatness: He was against this young country going into war, but given war, he hoped ardently that it would prevail. He had the moral conviction that slavery was wrong, but at that time, prosperity of the land hinged on the inexpensive labor and talents of dark-skinned people. I feel a more sympathetic to the moment, knowing of some of Key’s inner conflict. Life is rife with points of conflict. Perhaps when we fail to see it, our eyes are not wide open.
We have eaten well in Baltimore. We enjoyed Italian, Lebanese, and Japanese cuisine, as well as lots of seafood, all within walking distance. But we also carefully monitor our provisions so as not to waste the food that we schlep to the boat and carefully maneuver, like puzzle pieces, into our tiny fridge. Breakfasts/lunches sometimes are a little quirky, such as the chickpea pasta we finished with a fried egg atop. We commented that, after having given us three lovely dinners, the last bit of pasta probably would have been tossed at home.
We also bought some warmer clothing. (I’m actually wishing for wool socks and boots!) Today I note that Baltimore and Washington D.C. have the lowest high temperature in the contiguous 48 states. It’s colder here than in Bozeman, Montana and Freeport, Maine. But, while the cold is unwelcome, the rain will stop and the winds will die down, and we will leave Baltimore tomorrow. The sun will be shining once again by the end of the week. We have provisioned and readied for anchoring out the next four nights. D.C., here we come!
I am puzzled as to what happened to our photos on this post, so I have updated AGAIN, hoping they transfer this time. Thanks for your patience.