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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The First Day of Fall

It’s Sunday morning, the first day of Fall and it’s absolutely beautiful outdoors. The sky is clear, it’s 76°-F and the breeze is blowing about three miles per hour, so it feels more like a fine Spring day than the first day of Fall. We were up at 6:30 AM and, after taking Schooner for her morning constitutional, began preparing the boat to leave Baltimore at 8:00. Due to the calmness of the water and the great conditions, we were able to cast off about ten minutes early. We negotiated the many docks at the marina (it has 255 boat slips) and in no time at all, were on the Patapsco River, heading for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

As a general rule of thumb, Gordon and I try to never travel on a Sunday. The reason for this is, there are usually a high number of people zooming about in boats of all shapes and sizes and the water is really congested. To make matters worse, most of the weekend boaters haven’t a clue when it comes to boater safety, COLREGS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea), US Coast Guard Navigation Rules or plain old common courtesy. The net result is, the water becomes like a huge game of chicken with multiple players. Add a bit of alcohol and you wonder why there aren’t more collisions at sea. That being said, today was no exception to that rule.

Since this might be the last great weekend to go boating on the upper Chesapeake, the water was full of go-fast boats, big cruisers, small runabouts and sailboats trying to move under wind power alone (remember, the wind is only 3 mph.) To compound the congestion on the waterway, about every 45 minutes or so, an ocean going freighter (500 plus feet in length) or tug with a barge(s) in tow would pass by heading south. Many of the Sunday boating crowd paid them no heed and expected these big guys to move out of their way (bad idea.) Despite all of this drama, we were able to avoid any mishaps and make our way safely up the Chesapeake to the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal.

The C&D, originally dug in 1829, connects upper Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River. It’s 14 miles long, 450' wide, 45' deep and connects Philadelphia, PA with the Chesapeake Bay and all of its adjacent cities. We had timed today’s passage, so that the current was with us going into the canal and we’d reach the mid point of the canal right at slack tide. At this point is a marina called Summit Point Marina and it was here that we’d made a reservation for the night.

Upon our arrival, we took on fuel and moved into our slip for the night. It’s quiet here, calm, sheltered and the boat hardly moves in its slip. Tonight we’ll both get a good night’s sleep and head on to Philadelphia in the morning.

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