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Treasure the Chesapeake Flotilla

To have the opportunity to explore the Chesapeake Bay in all its beauty with several friendly and good-natured owners for five days while learning and soaking in the sun is what I call a tough job. It was called Treasure the Chesapeake and it took place from Solomon's, MD to St.Michael's, MD n five days of sunshine, smiles, and exploration.

The first night began at the Calvert Marina with an orientation of the trip's itinerary and presentation by Kurt Rausch, an extremely knowledgeable Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) volunteer. Kurt introduced the group to the basic facts of the Chesapeake Bay including the recent State of the Bay report and its dismal health rating of 29 out of 100. It is an improvement, though, and CBF is confident that with added efforts and collective commitment to restore the Bay this goal could be reached by the year 2010. Following the presentation was a happy hour and dinner at Vincenzo's Grill where Vincenzo himself graciously donated the space for our trip's kickoff. The cocktails were all but weak as the crew claims to have forgotten all they had learned!

Day two took place in La Trappe Creek, a spectacular anchorage, featuring a long sandy beach, and a stunning sunset enjoyed by all aboard Solveig IV's fly bridge, who then hosted a potluck dinner and evening entertainment consisting of banjo picking and group singing led by John Holum.

The next day the boats maneuvered one by one into the well named narrow (and shallow) stretch to Knapp's Narrows Marina. Once docked it was time for yet another lesson plan this time led by an Eastern Shore local and long time sailor, Captain Shawn Ridgely. Shawn, who now also works for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave an informative and hands-on lesson on oyster dredging. This was a great introduction to the Skipjack sail aboard 'Rebecca T. Ruark' with Captain Wade Murphy where after many stories and old family tales we participated in some dredging of our own. The result of which did not pull much of a meal, to say the least. Captain Wade let us know that the reason 80 percent of the oysters we pulled were dead was due to pollution, disease and the introduction of non-natives to the bay. This skipjack, the oldest still working, has seen much over the course of time on the bay. We just hope that one day she will be pulling in a greater number of living oysters as the health of the bay relies on them immensely. The photo on the left captures the crew hard at work demonstrating the difficulties of sailing a skipjack and confirming why one would opt to own a trawler!

Day three, beginning with the shallow exit from Knapp's Narrows was made possible by Larry Polster who led the flotilla along with his first mate and four-legged friend, Sasha, from Knapp's Narrows to the secluded and peaceful Granary Creek, located at Wye Island. It was great to know as the people and boats were all hustle and bustle on the Annapolis side of the Bay preparing for the Naval Academy's overhead flight of the Blue Angels we were about to explore the quiet nature of Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area with our leader Ranger Dave Davis. Ranger Dave taught us that life can be pretty simple when surrounded by the beauty of dense forests filled with poplar and oak trees and open farm land equipped with corn and wheat all the while listening to the rapping of woodpeckers and rustle of squirrels. Following a tour and intense story of the historic lodge built in the early 20's we were led by Ranger Dave as he loaded us into his pickup for a 'hike' around the island. Bouncing down the road we were brought to the oldest living holly tree, a mere 250+ years. After exploring the remaining land and learning of its history we all retired to our humble abodes, mine being a cozy bed and breakfast in St.Michael's called the Two Swan Inn. Unfortunately for me, a foot injury before the trip caused me to meet the group by land as they settled in aboard their respective Krogen's for the night.

The next morning all were awakened by the Pirates of PassageMaker Magazine as they raided the creek aboard the vessel 'Bligh on the Wye', equipped with loot consisting of doughnuts and newspapers, water and hats. They made for a fun morning as all were pleasantly surprised. Once fully sugared, the trip continued to its final destination, St.Michael's Marina, where all were greeted by the ever so helpful marina manager, Andrew Barksdale. Each boat of the cruise: 'Honga', 'Cup of Tea', 'SnowGoose', 'Solveig IV', 'Satauria', 'Two Drifters', and 'Together' made it safely to the docks and were joined by 'Li Li' for the final farewell beginning with a leisurely tour of the historical St. Michael's Maritime Museum ("Lowe Key" also joined for one evening at La Trappe). The museum was a wonderful spot to tie in all that we had learned throughout the week. It nicely summarized the history of the Eastern Shore, the hard work of the watermen, the decreased health of the bay, the change in landscape and living creatures, and the ways we can each contribute to improving the area of the Chesapeake Bay so that it can be enjoyed by all for years to come.

And so we all gather together for one last hurrah, this time at the Crab Claw Restaurant for some delicious crabs straight from the bay of which we traveled. We shared in some tales from the trip, quizzed one another on the things we learned and spoke of our adventures ahead. A water taxi ride back to the boats, took us to our final, and most entertaining farewell. It was a song written and sung by each participant of the trip played to the lead of the banjo and fiddle, played by John and Barbara Holum, directed to their leader and summarizing the experience I hope we all can one day do againOe


The Ships of Casey's Navy
To the tune of Salty Dog (approximately)

Casey Graves was feeling nice
So she up and gave her heel a slice
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

REFRAIN
Casey guides us all the way
Instructing us to love the Bay
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

Brought donuts and papers in the morn
Lest we travelers feel forlorn
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

Navigated through some narrow cuts
Rode a skipjack and froze our butts
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

REPEAT REFRAIN
Casey guides us all the way
Instructing us to love the Bay
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

Heard some lectures and learned a lot
Then had cocktails and plumb forgot
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

Waters at Knapp's were mighty thin
Captain Polster led us in
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

Grand Bank dealers must have laughed
Cause he showed us the merits of shallow draft
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

REPEAT REFRAIN
Casey guides us all the way
Instructing us to love the Bay
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

A nature hike with perfect luck
Hiking in the back of a pickup truck
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

Touring the museum was quite a treat
But oh, my tired sore aching feet
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

We really are a motley crew
Joined by our love of a great sea view
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

No need to tack, no need to jibe
This is such an easy ride
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

Our friends chose condominiums
While we all fell for Kadey Krogens
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

To St. Michael's Marina we finally did retire
But of none of the adventure will we ever tire
We are the ships of Casey's Navy

REPEAT REFRAIN
Casey guides us all the way
Instructing us to love the Bay
We are the ships of Casey's Navy