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Old 24-10-2007, 09:31   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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October 20 - Saints Alive (a riff on a Canadian Brass piece I used to play in concert

October 20 - Saints Alive (a riff on a Canadian Brass piece I
used to play in concerts in a prior life with my trombone)

St. Michaels, like so many of the towns along the Chesapeake and
her tributaries, is an old historic town. I'll spare you the
guidebook descriptions, but it suffices to say that it's not only
on the "must-do" list of most of the cruisers we've met or talked
to, it's the home of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

That's a fairly large set of buildings and land, centerpieced by
a lighthouse which was removed from active service and placed on
the shore of St. Michaels. That forms the basis of the Chesapeake
Bay Maritime Museum, on which more later.

Historic buildings (and their related preservation efforts)
abound, and the town is well-thought out for visiting cruisers.
Many notable restaurants front the shoreline, and some even offer
a free ride on the water taxi to take you to dinnner. We opted to
lower the dinghy and went to shore to provision and explore a bit
after dinner at the Crab Claw where community dinghy dockage was
immediately adjacent. Dinner was marvelous and, by East Coast
standards, reasonable, but hardly inexpensive.

The Acme market was well supplied to stock our minimal
requirements, and we trundled back to the dinghy over the brick
footpath with our many bags. A dark transit saw us at our boat
and we stowed our provisions in our newly cold freezer and
refrigerator and we spent a peaceful night.

At anchor in St. Michaels, we had no fewer than 6 open wifi spots
from which to choose, and one of them was good enough for our
telephone connection to work, so we caught up on our emails and
did some research about boat parts. One of the emails mentioned
a bargain on image stabilization binoculars, a huge asset on a
moving boat, so I started to set up an internet purchase. We got
all the way to the part about credit cards, and it foundered, as
Lydia's mom wanted to buy them, and there was no provision for
foreign credit cards. Being the weekend, there was nobody at
home when I called - I'll call again on Monday morning...

As usual, the ladies got up late, but we went ashore for laundry
and more provisions. While the laundry does its thing, we explore
some of the local stores and manage, mostly (Lydia's mom buys
another lovely jacket), to avoid the blandishments of the
charming merchants. Because they were closed last night when we
tried to find them after dinner, we seek out the local ice cream
emporiums. One is closed for the season, but the other has a
modest selection from which to choose (we've been spoiled by the
Ice Cream Factory in Annapolis, with its 36 flavors), and we do

On the way out, we note that there's some conversation on a cell
phone relating to Dick Cheney, who has a home here on the western
shore. We learn the reason why, later.

Also as we sit eating our ice cream, we note a couple with a
small child entering. Well, Dad and the kiddie did, and mom
stayed outside. We finished our ice cream and were standing
around just enjoying the lovely sunshine and moderate
temperatures, when the couple and child sat at the outside table
we had just vacated. Lydia's mom noticed that the Dad looked
familiar, and recalled that they'd motored by in their dinghy
when we were in Annapolis, asking about our Honda generator.

Conversation ensued, and after discussion of their cruising
destinations, we learned that President Bush was to make a
presentation and bill-signing here in St. Michaels tomorrow. It
had to do with preserving the Rockfish fisheries industry
centered in St. Michaels and over the Chesapeake area, and would
be held at the Maritime Museum. Speculation was that we'd be
required to leave our anchorage in order to not be close enough
to where all the excitement was to happen. We couldn't have been
more than a couple of hundred yards away from the presentation
area. More on that, anon.

So, we continue with our laundry exercises, and while Lydia and
her mom fold, I go again to the Acme. There I read the local
paper of the event with President Bush, and gain more than I'd
remembered of our list. (My memory of what was on the shopping
list the prior night was incomplete, so I went to remedy the
shortfall. Amusingly, that took just shy of a hundred dollars to
accomplish!) Once again, we trundle to the boat over brick
footpath, but this time, we borrowed the Acme cart, as it is full
to the brim with laundry and the additional supplies I've bought,
rumbling mightily on the pavement and bricks.

I run it back as Lydia and her mom explore the site for the
presentation tomorrow. There's a peanut gallery set up - the
local newspaper sez it's only media who will be there, but as we
see the next day, those small bleachers and seats are full of
what look to be very old folks - perhaps some of the original
fisheries industry people? - and later, "suits" and security

We get back to the boat and enjoy a marvelous supper and hit the
sack reasonably early. However, about 10PM, suddenly, the wind
picks up dramatically. Our anchor holds firm, but we swing onto
what we later learn is the locally infamous St. Michaels Sand
Bank. It would have been nice for any of the several guides we
have to mention that point!

We become firmly aground in what is not only a rising tide but,
presumably, being pushed further aground by what turns out to be
over 30 knots of wind. North of us, funnel clouds were sighted in
Annapolis in the same storm, but we get only a brief period of

No big deal, as it's soft mud, we're not bouncing, and, even at
low tide the 10 degrees or so of list isn't uncomfortable. High
tide is about 12:30, and I'll take a long line from the mast top
to our dinghy, pull us over, freeing the keel, and we'll be off.
Heh. More anon...

I happen to wake at about 4AM and note that the presentation area
across from our anchorage is brilliantly lit by portable lighting
as they prepare for the signing event. A large fishing-style boat
with a rumbling bass exhaust parks itself near to the museum
area, and shuts down. I go back to sleep, knowing that high tide
is our best chance for getting off the shoal.

I start preparations, assembling and connecting several hundred
feet of line to tie to a halyard at the top of the mast, the
better to obtain the best leverage (without pulling the boat out
of the water with the pressure) as I pull with the dinghy. As I'm
doing that, the local water cop (St. Michaels has at least two
police boats) stops by and comments that I'll have to stay
outside the channel during the presentation. However, as I set
out across toward the channel, long before the President arrives,
I'm chased off (told, in no uncertain terms to return to our
boat) by secret service personnel patrolling in an umarked boat.
They say it will be about 30 minutes before we can do our thing,
and they'll let us know when it's OK. No problem, it's still
before noon.

Fat chance. Not only do they say nothing, Bush doesn't make his
appearance for well over an hour. Helicopters, police boats,
Coast Guard boats and the aforementioned Secret Service buttress
the evident security seen in various places around the area, and,
eventually, he does, indeed, arrive.

We're at a vantage point which is behind the presentation. To my
surprise, probably to allow for the picturesque background of the
old-time fishing vessel immediately behind him, there are NO
personnel behind him. As a result, we have an entirely clear view
of him from his knees to over his head, watching him pat the
introducing person on the shoulder, and do his presentation,
which surprisingly, takes nearly an hour, and encompasses high

While I'm sure that every boat in the harbor was checked out in
advance, and, I presume, we came up as no threat (and for that
matter, in my prior life, I was a registered Republican, the
community I lived in having literally no Democatic challengers so
the primaries determined the local winners), nut cases abound.
The water, aided by our being securely aground, was still, as all
traffic, by this time, was interdicted, and nothing moved in the
still air. Were we so inclined, we could easily have been below,
in the shadows, and taken him out instantly, shooting through a
port. As it was, I was able to get a reasonably good picture of
him, through the space between the boom and the deck of the
aforementioned scenic background vessel, even with just a digital
camera on "zoom," so it would have been trivial with a
high-powered rifle with a decent scope.

Better yet, though, since the papers didn't mention it and
therefore we weren't prepared to take a picture, he roared off in
a fishing boat after the presentation, coming even closer to us,
and was very prominently visible in the aft, adjusting his cap.
OY! I presume there must be dozens of such assassination
opportunities over the course of a year. The miracle is that they
don't happen, as there are creative nutcases every where.

So, President Bush is alive to speak another day. Stay tuned for
further adventures in the Chesapeake! Well, aground in St.



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in
its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts."
(Richard Bach, in The Reluctant Messiah)
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