Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cruise, Day 14, Part 1

Pride of Baltimore II
Credit: Wikipedia

I was preparing to get underway when I noticed some stitching had broken and pulled out of the reinforcing area of the mainsail clew. The first order of business was some hand-stitching. I was able to sew the clew with the main in place on the boom, so not having to remove the sail saved some time.
We had to motor out of Sue Creek, but set the main and gennaker as we passed Booby Point with light zephyrs drifting in from the north. But thirty minutes later, that was the end of the breeze, and we doused the sails and started the engine. We had been up Back River any number of times, so we continued across Hawk Cove and rounded Hart-Miller Island.

The water was so smooth it looked oily. Now I have a theory. It is said that a tsunamis wave will continue until it hits land or a shoal that causes it to expend its energy, even circling the globe. With no scientific data to back this up, just mere observation, I’m almost convinced a powerboat wake will do the same. Running along on smooth water, a wave will suddenly come along, like the three-footer that hit me outside Hart-Miller Island, they’ll role you gunwhale to gunwhale. You scan the horizon for 360-degrees, and there’s not a boat in sight anywhere. The wake will roll on for miles and miles, and the vessel creating it will long be gone from sight. Yes, my theory is a little ‘tongue-in-cheek’, but just barely.

As you sail south and enter the Patapsco River, you round North Point and enter Old Road Bay. An imposing brick structure is on the point, and I was impressed with it until I got close enough to see that it had been poorly maintained. TV antennas punctuated the roof, bent and laying in all directions, window screens were missing, one still hanging from the window by one corner. The thought crossed my mind, “If I had to guess, I’d bet that was a veteran’s hospital.” Sadly, I was right. It’s called Fort Howard.
Leaving Old Road Bay, I sailed north passing the beginning of the continuous ring of commercial wharves and piers that ring Baltimore. That sounds dreary and unwelcoming, but here you’ll encounter not only fascinating history, but a continual buzz of activity involving all kinds and sizes of ships. For those with time to stay, the beautifully transformed Baltimore Inner Harbor, home of the 90-ft. Pride of Baltimore II, a topsail schooner known as a Baltimore Clipper, is a must-see. This is also the home port of the USS Constellation, the 199-ft. sloop-of-war built in 1853. 

USS Constellation

Just before you go under the Francis Scott Key Bridge to starboard is Fort Carroll. The young Lt. Robert E. Lee was given the job of supervising the construction of Fort Carroll starting in 1847. It was to be a four-story, 40-foot high firing platform that would mount 350 cannon and create an impenetrable wall of defense for the Port of Baltimore. This will be hard for you to believe, but construction was well underway when Congress suddenly said, “Nah, we’ve changed our minds.” Construction was halted, Lee was sent to be superintendent of the West Point Military Academy, and the fort, close to the channel, remained as more of a navigational hazard than a defense.
Francis Scott Key Bridge
Fort Carroll, Patapsco River

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