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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ernesto

We snuggled in amongst Cruise Ships and Tour Boats to gain some protection from Tropical Depression Ernesto. Winds peaked at about 40 knots and the water level went up a foot above normal high tide so we were fortunate. WIth Intuition securely tied on the leeward side of the dock, we enjoyed most of the day exploring the National Aquarium.

Since having a good wifi connection has become important to us, we also took the opportunity to visit Port Networks. They make waterproof wifi bridges and antennas using power over ethernet specifically for boats. Their office is on the twenty-fourth floor of a building overlooking the harbor, so we got a good view of Baltimore. Also ended up buying their unit and it is enabling us to have a connection without having to leave the boat. We have 30 days to try it and see if it allows us to get better reception. So far, so good!

One side note on the TD Ernesto. The ABC tv crew was out filming folks.  They set up the camera in a space between two building that really funneled the wind down to the water. It made for exciting video, but did NOT represent the reality of the situation.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Training in Baltimore

With the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad museum only a short distance away, we walked up past Camden Yards to ride the first mile of commercial railroad in the country. The roundhouse, which was severely damaged in a 2003 hurricane, has been restored and houses a unique collection of historical engines.

Being carless, we appreciate the public transporation system in Baltimore. We rode the bus and then connected to light rail that allowed us to visit Ruth Ambinder, an old family friend of Beth’s in Timonium. The train was quiet and clean and an all day pass was only three dollars.  After getting back to the Inner Harbor, we had dinner at a diner where there were still nickel juke box machines at the table. Noah picked out some good Motown tunes for his mom to enjoy.


Underway Again

We started up the new engine and slipped away from the quiet of Rock Hall and headed out into the Bay. The engine purred and pushed us over Sandy Point shoal in a route that cut an hour of our time.  The fact that the depths are greater than charted was shared by Hayden Cochran. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing. The winds were out of the North, so the bay was building some interesting waves that bounced us around a little as we headed West to Baltimore. Once across the bay, the river was much calmer and made for a pleasant cruise. Heavy industry and cargo terminals line the banks of the Patapsco River and there was quite a bit of ship traffic. The traffic made the AIS system fun because we could identify the ship and knew their destination, direction, speed and size, although their were a couple of tugs that passed us without showing up on screen, so you always need to keep a good lookout.


Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a real contrast to sleepy little Rock Hall. Beth found us a place to tie up between the cruise ships at the City Pier which only charges $1/foot and is in the middle of everything. The only disadvantage is the 10 minute walk to the bathrooms, but that is a minor inconvenience. Since we can see the dinosaurs in the science museum from the deck, that was the first place we explored. A family was leaving as we entered and gave us tickets to the Norman Rockwell special exhibit. Highlights of his paintings were recreated so you could stroll through the small town america of Rockwell’s imagination. All the exhibits were interactive including “old fashioned” dial telephones, Jeep Willys, and radio shows. The exhibit concluded with all of his magazine covers and full sized paintings of his “Four Freedoms” inspirational paintings from World War II. The rest of the museum was also a big hit. We didn’t see everything, but Noah’s favorites were a Rube Goldberg machine, a bed of nails, and a Nasa exhibit where kids could design and construct their own mars rover robots. The only way we got him out of the robot area was when they announced that the museum was closing. We could see Intuition from the dinosaur gallery and it looks like we might be in danger if the dinosaurs ever get hungry. We had dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen overlooking the USS Constellation, one of the few remaining civil war US Navy ships and we could keep an eye on our little cutter as well. We plan to ride out the remnants of Ernesto here. You couldn’t ask for a place with more things to do on a rainy day. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Engine Running!

Well, a month has gone by in Rock Hall and our budget is shot, but we have a working engine and we plan to depart tomorrow. Tom, the mechanic here at Gratitude, did an amazing job fitting the new, larger engine in the old spot. A larger exhaust and water intake made for a real challenge as did lifting the engine bed an inch and a half. To add a degree of difficulty, Yanmar reversed the side of the engine on which the exhaust exits. They have also switched to an alternator driven tachometer, so the tach reads 100-400 rpm higher than the engine really runs due to retrofitting our high-output Balmar alternator. Yanmar also switched to a new tachometer that isn’t adjustable. Sounds like they don’t want other alternators on their engines. The sea-trial was Friday and yesterday Tom realigned the engine to the prop shaft.  Spare parts should arrive today, so we hope to leave in the morning. Our plans are to explore the bay for the first 50 hours of engine break-in time, return to Rock Hall for the mandatory adjustments, then re-evaluate our plans. Let’s hope Ernesto drops in intensity and doesn’t ruin Labor Day weekend.

The weekend in Rock Hall gave us the opportunity to meet some of the ever helpful members of the Island Packet email discussion list. Hayden & Radeen Cochran graciously hosted a party at Spring Cove where we met many of the resident IP owners that we have conversed with  over the internet for the last three years. Noah enjoyed the snacks and was treated to reading time with Claire Gabor and Radeen Cochran.

Noah and Beth have been catching up on school work that was missed during the Maine vacation. Finished up week four yesterday with a day of tests. Today’s science class was on animal parts and we chose to study crabs which we caught on the dock pilings. Noah identified parts, drew a nice picture, and convinced me to throw back the females. The remaining crabs are steaming in the galley as I type this.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Return to Rock Hall

After returning from Maine on Sunday we spent a few relaxing days back at Fern Lake, where we resumed playing board games and fell asleep to the sound of loons (like the one in the picture). Then the relay race began -- two rental cars, three friends and a few hundred miles later we’re back in Rock Hall with a new engine. The sea-trial went well today and the engine pushes the boat another knot faster than the old engine. There are still a few small kinks to work out so we’ll be in Rock Hall until early next week. The mechanics at Gratitude did an admirable job squeezing the 40 hp engine into a 35 hp hole. Larger exhaust & cooling water lines coupled with a change in design that switched the side the exhaust exits the engine made for a real challenge.



Saturday, August 19, 2006

Check out Day

Saturday is check out day at the condo Don & Donna Bartlett loaned us, so we got up and were on the road by 9. We were going to head to Gardiner ME, to meet cousins Randy and Linda at noon and follow them to the Haskell camp on Damariscotta Lake for lunch and possible lake activities. We decided that the freeway route would be a good idea after all the winding roads we had been traveling on. We made good time and were in Augusta, Maine’s state capital, before 11, and Augusta is only 15 or so from Gardiner, so we decided to stop at the State Museum there. It was a very well laid out place, winding you down three levels with many interesting exhibits. One of the nicer museums we have seen. We went through it rather quickly and were able to meet Randy & Linda almost on time.
Lunch at Ernie and Eunice Haskell’s camp was delicious and filling. There were hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob and at least 4 side dishes to choose from. That was followed by chocolate cake and ice cream! We then had to decide what to do next- should we stay at the lake and play with all the water toys, like water skiing, tubing, paddle boating and swimming, or should we head over to Boothbay Harbor and check out the sites there? We decided on limited lake play of paddle boating with Noah, and then we all took off in a 7 passenger mini van.
Our first stop was the Boothbay Railway Museum. All but Ernie and Eunice took the train, and they then met us inside the Museum at the antique auto exhibit. There were over 100 antique cars, all in mint condition on display. As it was close to closing time, Noah, Mark & I got to see them fire up a Model A and back it into the car barn.




We then headed into Boothbay Harbor and walked around, taking in the sights. Then it was off to Pemaquid Point to see the lighthouse there. As we approached, we were met by a bag piper walking down the street followed by dozens of formally dressed folks who had just attended a wedding on the grounds of the lighthouse. After reassuring himself that the rocks were much as he remembered, Mark allowed us to head off to dinner. We went to THE lobster house in the area, Shaws, where Randy and Mark each devoured their own lobster, although how they could each that much after our huge lunch still amazed me!

We headed back to Ernie and Eunice’s camp to end our last day in Maine.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Dive-in Theatre

What a hoot -- today we went out on the m/v Seal and watched Diver Ed explore the bottom of Frenchman’s Bay via live video feed. Ed was a hit with the kids as he took “mini-Ed” (a plastic diver) with him and we saw live video of mini-Ed being attacked by lobsters and crabs, trying to kiss sea anemones and having strange encounters with sea cucumbers seventy feet under the boat. There was a hydrophone so we could hear and talk with Ed who was in a full face mask and dry suit since the water temperature was in the forties down there. Ed then brought up all kinds of sea life for the kids and adults to examine close-up and personal.  Diver Ed let the kids push him off the boat and then came back aboard with his dry suit inflated like a sumo wrestler. That is Noah with a Blood Star, we learned that they like to eat sponges.

Explored more of Mount Desert Island for the rest of the day. We meandered our way to Northeast Harbor and then followed the shoreline of Somes Sound, the only fjord on the US East coast. Admired lots more “cottages” on the coast, but decided they were probably all out of our price range. The clue was that the only two realtors on the Island seem to be Sotheby’s and Hinckley. As the sun was setting, a beautiful blue sloop came in and picked up a couple from the public pier just before the sun set behind Bartlett Island. This was a signal that it is time to go South, as the temperature dropped enough that it was time for coats, long pants and yes, even socks. We check out of here in the morning and then will catch-up with Maine relatives for the rest of the weekend before heading back to the Adirondacks.  The new engine will be installed on Monday, so should be able to head back to Maryland sometime next week.




Thursday, August 17, 2006

Caves, Celebrations & Stars

Coffield & Sally Knight, from Chapel Hill, celebrated their fiftieth anniversary today and we were honored to share some of the celebration with them and their family -- here in Acadia. We toured a lobster hatchery with them in the morning, where Noah volunteered to band lobster claws, and then joined them for a toast later in the afternoon. What a fun coincidence and special treat. Noah was especially excited to find some kids to play with.

Around the special events we visited more of Acadia on Mt Desert Island. Found Anemone Cave where you can get in at low tide and see tide pools in a unique setting. It isn’t on the maps of the park any more, either to protect it, or maybe because people were getting stranded in there as the tide came in. That is today’s picture. Beth slipped on the rocks, got a few cuts from the barnacles, and will be black and blue for a while but seems to be in good shape otherwise. She still thinks it was worthwhile exploring the cave. We did see the first anemones of the trip. Drove the “loop road” from there which has beautiful vistas of the rocks and bays along the island coast. In Seal Harbor there were some beautiful boats and kids were catching mackerel from the docks. After visiting with the Knights we attended an outdoor slide show where a ranger shared some beautiful slides of “Hidden Treasures” in the park. Some of the treasures he didn’t discuss were popping out above us as the night sky was spectacular. We stopped on the way home at Hancock Point where there were almost no city lights around and had a wondrous view of the Milky Way.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Schoodic


Schoodic Peninsula is a special place in Maine. As the only part of Acadia National Park that is attached to the mainland, it doesn’t see as much traffic as Mt Desert Island. The rocky points that reach out into the Atlantic make for great pictures as the waves crash against granite.  On the way we investigated a sign saying “tidal falls.” A narrow cut showed water rushing through rapids and short falls heading towards the ocean when we arrived close to low tide.  Six hours later we stopped again and the water was falling through rapids heading in the other direction at quite a velocity. The twelve foot tidal range is quite a change from what we experience in North Carolina. Many of the areas that were clam (mud)flats in the morning were filled to the rocky rim with water in the afternoon. Back at Schoodic we enjoyed a hike up to “The Anvil.”  On the point itself, we explored much of the seashore and tidepools. Beth even followed her boys through a granite tunnel to a more remote section of the peninsula. I’m surprised by the lack of life in the tidepools. As a child I remember lots of crabs, anemones, sea urchins and an occasional sea cucumber. Most of what we’ve found this trip are snails and seaweed. Several small fishing villages like Winter, Birch and Prospect Harbors provided picturesque views of lobster boats and light houses. We brought along the laptop and the little GPS mouse which allowed Beth to navigate us to seaside roads. We didn’t take many pictures, because they are private homes, but there are wonderful cottages and old farm houses all along this section of the coast.

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