Meandering Through the Marshes
12 October 2007 | Cacaway Island, MD
We have had a delightful few days. It feels so very good to slooooow down - waaaay down. There has been a rhythm to our journey just as there is in any journey. Weather, events, and our level of energy or fatigue have guided us. Sometimes we feel the urge to press onward in our eastward/southward movement. Sometimes we stay in a particular place for an event; sometimes we stay to enjoy the company of friends and family. Sometimes we want to explore an area in a little more depth than "just passing through" allows us to do; sometimes "getting there" is the driving force.
We pushed down the New Jersey coast and up Delaware Bay because we wanted to attend the Annapolis Boat Show last weekend. Having done that, we are now in a position to slow down until the end of the month while we explore the Chesapeake Bay. Strathspey and Madcap are setting our own itineraries for this period so there is no need to consult on destinations or timing. Each crew gets to do exactly as it wants - when it wants. And so, Jim and I have been meandering!
We left Baltimore on Monday and made our way back down the Patapsco River to an anchorage in Swan's Creek near Rock Hall - on the eastern shore of the Bay. I started dinner as soon as we arrived, and a couple of hours later we feasted on roast turkey (yes - from my own little oven on board), apple-cranberry stuffing, peas, carrots and coleslaw with a chilled chardonnay. After allowing that to settle a bit, we dropped into the silky water for a swim, and followed up with carrot cake and a sip of Niagara Ice Wine. T'was a memorable Thanksgiving indeed.
Tuesday was hot again - in the high 20's (it may even have hit 30) and although we had planned to explore Rock Hall - the local town - it was all we could do to walk as far as the Waterman's Museum. That was closed up so we asked for the key at the neighbouring store and spent a pleasant time examining the memorabilia there. Then it was a hot and dusty walk back to the dinghy and a speedy run to Madcap where we jumped immediately into the water again.
This swimming has been an unexpected treat. We had never dreamed it would be warm enough, and the water temperatures have been the highest we've seen all trip - high 20's. We keep hearing about sea nettles, also known as stinging nettles. I thought they must be plants, but it turns out they are jellyfish (Jim knew that all along). When we eventually saw some in the Chester River, they were smallish white ones with trailing stingers. The books say the water is fresh enough as we travel up these rivers that they are not a problem, and we have found that to be true.
We saw the most elaborate and plentiful duckblinds - good sized ones with thatched sides and roofs - in Swan's Creek. We're happy that they don't appear to be in use right now since we have been able to spot several from almost every anchorage we've been in, and we don't relish being caught in any crossfire.
On Wednesday, we raised anchor and traveled on to the Chester River. We had read about an anchorage just off Cacaway Island and so we navigated our way up the river, into Langford Creek, through the marsh-lined channel to the anchorage. I have just finished reading James Michener's Chesapeake in which he talks a great deal about the marshes and it is interesting to be moving among them. Much of that novel is set in the Choptank River, which we will explore next week, but I think we are certainly getting a taste of it now. These rivers twist this way and that, and the shoreline is almost always lined with rushes.
Cacaway Island is small - no landing allowed - and is home to a variety of birds. We saw a magnificent bald eagle soar in for a landing. He perched high above us for quite some time and I was desperately wishing for a "zoomier" lens on my camera! What strong birds they are - huge claws, thick necks, and so distinctive with their white head and tail feathers. At the other end of the island, a couple of turkey vultures were putting on a show. One was perched atop a dead head and the other came soaring in to land higher up on the same branch. They appeared to be engaging in some kind of interaction - do adults feed each other like cardinals do? One flew off again while the other stayed with wings outstretched, tail up, head down and appeared to be eating. I wish I had been able to get a better look but it was just too far away. Today, a turkey vulture came in to a branch closer to us, and sat for the longest time with his back to us and his (her?) wings spread wide out. The wing span had to be close to a metre. I don't know if they need to spread their wings out to dry like cormorants do or not. I'd be very happy to hear from any birders out there about turkey vulture habits. A couple of elegant blue herons appeared as well - one standing so still along the shoreline while another landed high in a tree and pulled his long neck in as if to take a nap. This morning we saw a great mass of Canada Geese fly overhead.
What a treat it is to be up close and personal with nature in the Chesapeake. Later today we head for Chestertown to do some connecting with people.