Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

Middle Chesapeake Page 2
Our Loop Stats
About Us and Starsong
Where Are We Now?
Where Were We Recently?
Archives: Where Have We Been?
Photo Gallery
Great Loop Map
Contact Us
Tuesday, May 17, 2005  Solomons to Annapolis, Maryland
52.5 miles

Cove Point Light

We won't talk about the weather during our passage, just the lighthouses.  We passed two photogenic historic lighthouses along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake as we made our way north from Solomons to Annapolis.
The first was the Cove Point Light, which was built in 1828 to mark a shoal that extends out from Cove Point toward a shipping lane.  The lighthouse is made of locally manufactured brick, and its light is visible for 12 nautical miles.
When the light was first built, the keeper's quarters were built just large enough for a keeper and his wife.  Over time, the quarters were expanded to a duplex for two keepers and their families, then a two-bedroom bungalow was added for a third keeper.  The keepers lost their jobs in 1986 when the lighthouse was automated and controlled by a computer from Baltimore.

Thomas Point Shoal Light

Further north toward Annapolis we passed the Thomas Point Shoal Light, located nearly two miles off shore to keep boats from shoals (unexpected shallow water).  It was put in service in 1875, and is still used as an aid to navigation today.
The house is a hexagonal wood frame structure, just a story and a half in height, but elevated by its metal frame foundation. The rocks you see at the base of the lighthouse are not the shoal, and were not part of the original lighthouse foundation. A few winters after the lighthouse was erected, ice formations on the bay damaged the light, and they decided to bring in big rocks to protect the lighthouse from future damage by storm surge waves and ice.
We arrived in Annapolis Harbor at about 12:30, and were happy to find that there were plenty of anchor balls available.  It costs just $25 per night to hook up to an anchor ball, a big savings from the going rate of $2 per foot charged by the marinas near the town center. 
The dinghy dock for the boats on balls is right in the center of the historic area of Downtown Annapolis, where there are more 18th century buildings than anywhere else in the country.  It is just a short walk away from the State House, the Naval Academy, and countless shops and restaurants, including a Starbucks right on the waterfront. 
As we were taking our dinghy into town, we passed Salty Dog on the town dock.  The McKinneys, whom we first met in Fort Myers this winter, waved and welcomed us to Annapolis.  We stopped to chat awhile, then continued on our way to explore Annapolis.

A Walking Tour View of 18th Century Homes

Annapolis Highlights  May 17-21
Our plan was to spend just a couple days in Annapolis. Then  bad weather changed our plans, so we had extra time to enjoy its charms.  These are a few of our favorite things about Annapolis.
"America's Sailing Capital"
Just about every day seems to be a great day for sailing in Annapolis, which has proclaimed itself "America's Sailing Capital."  While we were on our mooring ball, we had great seats to watch sailboat races out on the Bay.
We saw races Tuesday and Wednesday, and a race was scheduled for Thursday, but we missed it because we were off the boat.

A pass close to our bow

The final leg of the Annapolis Yacht Club Race on Wednesday night passed our mooring field.  At least 200 boats participated, from 14 to 40 feet long.  As they completed their last leg, many of them tacked through the mooring field, and our boat, along with all the other boats and mooring balls,  became part of their obstacle course.
We loved being part of the racing action, and getting close-up views of the boats, and their crews at work.  Because there were so many boats and so many different classes, the action lasted for nearly two hours, and we watched until the last boat came in. 
The State House
Maryland has the oldest state house in the country still in use.   It is also the only current state house that also served as a U.S. capitol. For nine months, in 1783-84, the Maryland State House had its turn as the site of our nation's capitol, at a time when our country was in the early stages of its founding. George Washington resigned his commission before the Continental Congress here, and the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War was signed here.
The state house was the tallest building in the nation when it was built, and the lightning rod installed on its spire by Benjamin Franklin is still in service there.
We learned these historical facts, and lots more, on a free tour the day we arrived.
The United States Naval Academy

Color Guard Practicing Before the Parade

Lucky us! We arrived for a walking tour on the first day of Commissioning Week -- a week of festivities leading up to graduation.  So, we got our walking tour of the campus, followed by a formal parade of all the students.  Then we returned the next day for an enormously entertaining ritual involving 200 pounds of lard that closes the freshman year (when midshipmen are known as plebes). 

Bancroft Hall Rotunda

During our tour we learned that the Academy has the largest campus dining hall in the world, serving 12,000 meals per day (we ate lunch there), and the largest collection of Beaux Arts campus buildings in this country.  As Dick commented, as we were walking around the immense and elegant Bancroft Hall, a dorm which houses all 4,200 midshipmen, "I feel like I am walking around Versailles."
Bancroft Hall is actually much bigger than Versailles.  With 1,700 midshipman rooms (a co-ed dorm), 4.8 miles of hallways, and 33 acres of floor space containing just about all the facilities the midshipmen need for daily living, it is the largest dormitory in the world.
The students that live in this elegant setting have to keep their rooms white glove and black sock clean -- so that a white glove picks up no traces of dust anywhere in the room, and a black sock picks up no traces of soap scum in the shower.

Naval Academy Chapel

We were particulary interested in the Naval Academy Chapel, after visiting and photographing the Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado this past October as part of our Quilt Camp creative inspiration experieince. 
The Naval Academy Chapel is much more traditional, and much older, but, like the Air Force Academy Chapel, it is full of spiritual references that have special significance to this branch of the service. 
A large window over the altar depicting Christ walking on water was designed by Tiffany Studios.
The stained glass windows along the sides of the chapel all illustrate nautical Bible verses -- New Testament on the left side, Old Testament to the right.  Some of the verses are:
   What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him. (Matthew VIII:27)
  Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of men. (Mark I:17)
  Stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it. (Exodus XIV:16)
  Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis VI:8)

Noah's Ark Window

Our favorite of the side windows is "They that go down to the sea in ships. These see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep." (Psalm CVII:23-4)
As for the parade, the form of it was familiar -- it resembled the Boot Camp Graduation Parade we saw on Parris Island just a month ago.  We did notice a big difference in style, though. The most obvious difference was that the Navy units included a mix of men and women, while in the Marines the women were in separate units.  The Navy midshipmen's shoes were not as uniformly polished as the Marines'.  The Marines have an exaggerated half-pregnant walk that they perform with precision, while the Navy midshipmen have something more akin to a swagger or a saunter -- it just looks a little more casual.  Finally, the poor Marines were underdressed for the weather, in shirtsleeves when we were bundled up in multiple leyers and heavy jackets, while the midshipmen were overdressed in jackets, while we were wearing tee shirts.  
On to the plebes' final class project -- the one that involves 200 pounds of lard.  It is a proud Naval Academy tradition for each class of plebes to attempt to scale Herndon Monument, a 21 foot obelisk that upperclassmen have liberally coated with lard for the occaision. On top of the monument is a lard-coated plebe hat.  The plebes have to knock it off and replace it with the upperclassmen's hat they will wear for their next three years. Legend has it that the plebe that places the hat on the top will be the first of the class to make admiral.  Alas, in all the years of climbing Herndon, this legend has never actually come to pass.

Scaling Herndon

The task is harder than it sounds.  We joined thousands of spectators and the press in watching in suspense as the students formed all manner of human pyramids, ripping off their shirts and pants to wipe the lard from the monument.  Each time they made progress we would cheer or applaud, and each time they collapsed, we would groan.  Every fifteen minutes the band would strike up a tune.
The longest time it has taken is four hours, and this class did it in an hour and 16 minutes, the fastest time since 1989.  A photo and story about the climb was front page news in the Annapolis and Baltimore papers, as we expected, but we also saw a photo of the climb in the New York Times the next day, which was a surprise.
Other Miscellaneous Pleasures of Annapolis
We enjoyed a wonderful walking tour on tape, narrated by Walter Cronkite. We learned that people who live here are Annapolitans. 
Dick prowled the marine store and the old-fashioned hardware store daily. We found fudge, ice cream, lattes, interesting book stores, and the New York Times, all within minutes of the dinghy dock. We sat on the deck of our boat with binoculars and ogled the midshipmen and their dates all dressed up on the night of the graduation ball. Later that night we enjoyed their fireworks show. 
Click on the picture below to see more Annapolis photos.