Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cruise, Day 8

I was very pleased to receive my first comment in response to our blog yesterday, and excited to see that my first response should come from Max, on the Hamble River in Hampshire, England. A little search shows him being on the south central coast of England, roughly half-way between Southhampton and Portsmouth.The River Hamble is navigable for about 7 ½ miles, flowing through Botley, Bursledon, and Swanwick before flowing into Southhampton Water and then the Solent at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. Wow, there’s nothing like being based in one of the major sailing centers of the world. Thanks, Max.

We started out from Hacks Point under power, but set full main and genoa after clearing the Bohemia River, and sailed across the Elk River to Piney Creek Cove. We then turned and headed south only to find that the wind that had come up was just a teaser breeze, and we had to furl and start the engine again. By 1050 we had reached south along Elk Neck and were rounding Turkey Point.
The Turkey Point light is interesting, being commissioned by Congress in 1833 for a projected cost of $5,000. The design by John Donohoo was the same he had used for the construction of Concord Point Lighthouse at Havre de Grace. While the Turkey Point tower is short, it sits on a 100-foot high bluff, raising the lens to 129 feet, and making it the third highest light on the Chesapeake Bay. The Turkey Point light was noted for the large number of women lighthouse keepers. Four of the ten lighthouse keepers were women, who served for 89 of the 115 years that the light was manned. The light was electrified in 1942, but it was automation of the light in 1947 that retired Fannie Salter, the last woman lighthouse keeper in the United States. With the keepers gone, the isolated location of the light made it a prime target for vandalism. Even the lighthouse lenses were stolen. Between vandalism and decay from the lack of maintenance that the keepers provided, the two-story keeper’s house was torn down in 1972.

Concord Point Lighthouse, Havre de Grace

The light keeper's house.  The end wall shows the original building
and how it was enlarged over time.

We sailed southwest to the red and green “A” junction buoy at the mouth of the Susquehanna River where we set full sail again. At the Fishing Battery, half-way up the river to Havre de Grace, MD, we again had to start the engine, however. Havre de Grace is hard to visit by water. There is no good place to get ashore for a day visit, so I had to rent dockage at Tidewater Marina long enough to get ashore for a short walk.

French troops were quartered here during the Revolutionary War, and General Lafayette named it Le Havre de Grace (harbor of grace) because it reminded him of Le Havre, a seaport in France. During the War of 1812, on May 13, 1813, the town was under siege by the British fleet making its way up the Susquehanna River. Lt. John O’Neill single-handedly defended the town with continuous fire from a single cannon until he was wounded and captured by the British. He was eventually released by British Admiral George Cockburn in response to a petition from O’Neill’s daughter. When the lighthouse was built in 1827, the town acknowledged his heroism by promising his family hereditary employment as keepers of the Concord Point Lighthouse, a position his family retained until 1928. This is the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in the United States.

By 1630 we had run back down the Susquehanna and anchored in 13-feet just clear of the rocky point at the northern most point in the Aberdeen Proving Grounds’ restricted area. After a serene evening and sunset, I was suddenly awakened at 2230 by a wall of wind I could hear well before it even reached us. I slipped on my non-skid shoes and climbed on deck in my pajamas to set a second anchor. The howling wind allowed little sleep the rest of the night.

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