Friday, January 14, 2011

Cruise, Day 19

At 0715, having already brought the second anchor aboard, cleaned and stowed it, we left Martin’s Cove, made a short run up Burley Creek, and then exited Mill Creek. We ran across Whitehall Bay and up into Whitehall Creek, Minnow Creek, and Ridout Creek. When we exited Mill Creek, I set full main and jib, but as soon as we got out of the lee of the land it was obvious that a reef needed to be tucked back in the main. I had met Dave Skolnick on the internet at There he goes by the name of Auspicious, which is the name of his boat. He had invited me to stop and visit if I made it into the area, so we sailed across the mouth of the Severn River and into back creek. We anchored in the creek and I rowed Thorn over to find him. He was busy trying to get his boat ready for his trip to the British Virgin Islands, but made time to get me to a post office, hardware store, and laundromat, which the dictionary claims I should actually be calling a launderette. I haven‘t heard that one before.

Dave and I had lunch together before I returned to Thistle, and by 1405 I was under power and headed back out Back Creek. This was during the Annapolis Boat Show weekend, so traffic was really hectic. I turned north in the Severn, passed the Naval Academy and the Gov. Ritchie Hwy. (Rt. 450) bridge, and headed for Manresa Cove.

You can’t cross the Ritchie Hwy. bridge without seeing Manresa on the Severn. It is a huge, imposing white structure perched high on a rise overlooking the river. Yet, while everyone sees it, it’s amazing how few have any idea what it is. To understand Manresa, you need to go back to 1522.

A wealthy Inigo Lopez de Loyola was visiting a cavern near the Spanish town of Manresa (man-REE-sa), 30 miles outside of Barcelona. A deep transformational spiritual experience there convinced him he should abandon the life of privilege in favor of one that was reflective, austere, spiritual and humble as befitted a servant of God. He founded the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, which was to become the largest religious order of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1914, eighteen men at Georgetown University began to gather for communal meals, spiritual readings, mass, and contemplation. Their efforts led to the establishment of two religious retreats, Manresa on the Severn and Loyola on the Potomac. They purchased six acres of “worthless” land from the Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis Railroad. Construction began in 1926, and a chapel was added in 1930. Over 100,000 people have stayed there for religious retreats. By the late 1980’s fewer people were using the facility, and they began to suffer from financial shortages. The decision was made to sell the property, and in 1995 it was bought for use as an assisted living facility.
The cut into Manresa cove showed a depth of four feet with shoaling reported in 2001. The current was pouring out as I entered. I obviously allowed the bow to get offset to port, and before I knew it the current had walked me sideways onto a bar. If I’d been watching astern as well as ahead I would have caught the offset, but there I was, hard and fast. The engine and rocking did nothing to free me, and with the tide dropping, time was not on my side. I loaded the anchor into the dinghy with all the rode and rowed it well into the center of the cove so I could kedge off. Back on board, I ran the rode back to a cockpit winch. I would winch it bar tight, and then go onto the bow to take some weight off the rudder and swing the bow side to side. This process was repeated about three times, and then Thistle slowly slid off the bar. Once I had the ground tackle back on board, I ran into the cove and then came about and powered back out without further incident.

I continued north under full sail, but as soon as I got under the Rt. 50 bridge, the wind went flat. An occasional zephyr would stir the sails, but with the foul current, that only allowed us to stay in the same spot.
As long as I can remember, when we crossed the Rt. 50 bridge, we would look off the northwest edge of the bridge down into a perfect little cove that was almost under the bridge. There was just a little slit of an entrance, much like that into Manresa. We always thought it would be a neat place to anchor for a night, and I suddenly decided there would never be a better chance than right now, so I turned to port, ran in along the bridge supports, and cut into the little cove called The Cove of Cork, and anchored for the night. This photo is from our anchorage in the cove and looking back through the narrow entrance.

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