Sun and Clouds*

Many of our friends are asking, “Where are you?”and if we are “on our way,” so here is a brief update. Believe me, you do not want ALL of the details. 

We left home three weeks ago with the intent of embarking on our journey north on May 8. We enjoyed family visits and a four-day America’s Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) Rendezvous in Norfolk, VA. At the rendezvous we met people who will also be looping this summer (familiarly known as “Loopers”), and watched power point presentations regarding the route:  the options, the pleasures, and the pitfalls. Returning to the boat, we hoped to make final preparations and head out, but repairs and shipping of components continue to ensnare us. To date, the windlass which had already been repaired, was discovered to need a new motor right before our arrival. A new motor, and then a second one, arrived damaged. As it seemed that the supply of windlass motors in the US had been exhausted, we agreed to buy an entire windlass. However, a motor-only just now arrived at the boat with the added bonus of two guys who know how to install it—the guy with the chest-length beard in a ponytail, and the regular guy who is a sailboat racer and comes off a little “judgy” of motor cruisers. The sailor mechanic just told me that he happened upon this “partial windlass” at a local shop last night. My first thought was, “Wow, that’s lucky,” but being “lucky” would be getting the first shipped windlass motor in a properly packed box. At least this is a serendipity to celebrate. The windlass was the final loose end—until yesterday—when the galley AC outlet started popping its circuit. The problem was traced to the ice maker, which has been noisy but nonetheless has continued producing ice like a champ… until now. Of course, this being an 18yo boat, an identical unit is not available, and one most similar can be had in 8-months or so. Modifications will be required for the one we have ordered, but we have “overnighted it” and still hope to be out of here before the week end. One might ask why we need something so posh as an ice maker—are we too lazy to make our own ice?! The short answer is that our main fridge/freezer doesn’t freeze everything entirely solid. Then too, the built-in grill on the flybridge has a designated space for the ice maker, it being standard on this boat. And so, since we will need to sell the boat with a functional ice maker, we may as well enjoy the convenience this summer. 

As we “cool our heels” here south of Annapolis, MD, we are trying to make good use of our time. We visited the Annapolis Naval Academy, where a local mom of two graduates offered a down-to-business, fast-paced tour. At the end she pointed us to the museum, where we were directed to the model boat collection. Models of the highly-complex wooden boats were always made alongside the construction of the full-sized ones, the models alone often taking several years to complete by the most-promising junior craftsmen. We were eerily drawn to the model boats crafted by French Prisoners of the Napoleonic War from whatever materials they had—mostly wood and bone. Held together by animal-hide glue, these pieces are stunning in their detail—and the reference to animal-hide glue had me doing a google search later over our ice cream. 🤢

Another day, we drove up to Havre de Grace, rated one of the best 50 small towns in the US by Travel World. The area was originally inhabited by the Susquehannock Indians, “discovered” by John Smith, and a treaty with Maryland was enacted in 1652. The name “Havre de Grace” is attributed to General Marquis de Lafayette who, on his way to meet General Washington during the Revolutionary War, admired the view of the broad river as it opened onto the Chesapeake Bay. He is said to have exclaimed, “C’est Le Havre!” (What a View!) The list of things to do in Havre de Grace being diminutive, we dodged raindrops on a pleasant walk on the Promenade along the shoreline of the Susquehanna River and climbed 35 steps to the top of the short, albeit historic, lighthouse. The town was attacked in the War of 1812, and nearly totally burned; but by 1840 it had rebuilt and, with the opening of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal and the coming of the railroad, Havre de Grace quickly became a bustling commercial center. Its location at the mouth of the Susquehanna and the large flats of shallow water where celery grass and other water plants thrive, make it a haven for a profuse diversity of waterfowl and attracting hunters from all over. J.P. Morgan rented a boat here so that it was always on the ready for when he could slip away. And, hence, the enormous interest in decoys! The Decoy Museum explores the history of duck hunting, the boats, the weapons, the methods of attracting flocks. Decoys have been found with as many as 50 coats of paint on them, as hunters reused their decoys year after year. As decoys became mass-produced, decoy makers began making “fancy ducks,” artistic, highly-detailed, collectible  pieces. Tributes to well-loved towns people from mid-20th century gave the museum a special touch, as life-size wax likenesses of a dozen or so locals made the displays really pop. The museum was especially enjoyable through the lens of my having recently read James Michener’s Chesapeake, in which the rascal, Turlock, skirts the law in order to hunt geese. Dinner at the Vineyard was the perfect cozy finish on a rainy day.

A delightful, serendipitous Mother’s Day with Scott, Holly, and Wes made our delay worthwhile. We grilled burgers, played at the playground and flew Scott’s drone over the marina, took a dinghy ride, and investigated the many cords and 12-v. outlets on the boat through the eyes of a 3yo. It was the best! 

And so I’m reminded that “into any life some rain must fall.”*

Detail of a model ship made from wood and bone by a French prisoner of war
Wax likeness of a local, well-loved duck hunting enthusiast with his decoys.
Wes was “all things 12-volt” on the boat.

*Words of Longfellow, oft-quoted by my grandmother: Be still, sad heart! and cease repining/Behind the clouds is the sun still shining/Thy fate is the common fate of all/Into each life some rain must fall/Some days must be dark and dreary. 

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