13 June 2013 | Annapolis, MD, USA 38’58.40N 76’29.49W – Baltimore, MD, USA 39’16.66N 76’34.88W
Its not just the call of a drunkard on a Friday night after more sustenance in his local curry house, it is also a thriving bite size city that you can anchor in the middle of, is full of history and most importantly has friends who welcomed us with open arms. Where is this? Baltimore.
The historic place that Baltimore holds in Americans minds was obvious to us as soon as we negotiated the Francis Scott Bridge that framed Baltimore’s skyscrapers and marked our anchorage in downtown. Just off the to right was a mark that was not just red, white and blue but was the Star Spangled Banner, the national flag, in mark form. This marks the spot where the national anthem was penned while the locals bravely fought off the English forces that were posed to sack the city during the war of independence. It was fitting that as a British boat we detoured to have a good look at it as in the end it was set to the tune of a British pub song.
With Ruffian happily anchored under the gaze of the cities skyscrapers we ventured ashore to complete our chores. As we sat watching our washing spin around we were made aware that this was not the only thing spinning in the locality. Outside a tornado had just ripped through the marina, laying boats flat and taking off the roofs of local businesses. With fear cursing through us for the safety of our home we ran outside to look over the anchorage. There, as always, we found Ruffian sat serenely without a care in the world with newly washed decks from all the rain. It seems funny that we’ve sailed over 1000 miles to come here so as to avoid bad weather and so far have had a named storm, a tornado to contend with and enough lightening with torrential rain in Baltimore to power and water the entire city.
One of the major draws that Baltimore had for us is that it is home of our friends Phil & Judie from Rum Runner. We’d sailed with them as part of the ‘Salty Dawgs’ in the Caribbean and then met up again when we first made landfall in Beaufort. They were the most amazing hosts and enabled us to get right off the tourist trail.
Whilst we were in Beaufort we spoke with Phil about some of the differences between the UK & US and one of the things that came up was guns. Talking like naughty school children we asked Phil if he’d ever fired a gun. He seemed somewhat perplexed that there are people out there who hadn’t and sheepishly started to regale stories not only about his experiences but also of his collection. This was something that we had to see whilst we were in Baltimore and so off we went on the ‘gun run’.
Phil ran us through his collection and we looked on at things that we’d ever only seen in movies. He held an expert knowledge of every one from the antique ‘6 shooters’ to the fully automatic AK47 & M16. We had mixed emotions, were we supposed to be shocked at holding such things or in awe of their engineering and the power they represented. Ultimately, as many people have said, guns themselves are harmless; it’s the person at the trigger end that turn them into deadly things. We however are still scared whenever we even see a policeman with one! They just seem so alien to us as ‘Brits’.
Judie also wanted to give us something unique to the Maryland way of life and so she invited us out to her farm for a proper ‘Maryland Dinner’. Phil picked us up and drove us from the throng of downtown Baltimore and his office full prestigious design awards, through lush green rolling fields full of crops or grass for the thriving equestrian scene and then onto Judie’s farm. As we turned onto smaller and smaller roads we knew we were far far away from the tourist trail.
Judie’s farm was just picture perfect in the most idyllic of settings. Her grand white clapboard homestead complete with stables and horses gave the most fabulous backdrop for her ‘Maryland dinner’. Fireflies buzzed among the plants and deer roamed the grounds as we tucked into the sweetest of sweetcorn and crab cakes that were held together more by good luck than by filler and then all finished off with a local summer fruit cobbler. We could get used to living in Maryland.
We’d really like to thank Phil & Judie for taking the time to welcome us to their city and for taking us right off the tourist trail. These were experiences that money couldn’t buy.
We still had to explore Baltimore and as the guidebook said this was a city small enough to ‘do’ by foot we set off using our usual form of transport, feet. We took in the Baltimore World Trade Centre and the amazing views at its top and the historic waterfront complete with new and old warships. We were heartened that finally there was something that is bigger in the UK. The USS Constellation with its 38 guns would have been no match for HMS Victory with its 104. We also visited the civil war museum and realised that we really need to read ‘The Dummies Guide to the Civil War’ before we can understand the intricacies of this terrible conflict.
Since we left the UK we have not had to think about tides or currents, but now we are in America they are proving to be particularly important and are now starting to drive our schedule. There is a great ‘tidal gate’ for getting south down the Delaware river early next week and so we need to bid Phil, Judie and Baltimore a fond farewell and start making our way north and then through the C & D canal.
Iain bravely soldiers on even though he’s got a scabby knee.
Chesapeake. The bay of massive bridges.
Only in America. The Star Spangled Banner mark.
Baltimore does memorials pretty darn well.
You do not want to mess with this girl. Fiona gets to grips with a real fully automatic M16 with real grenade launcher.
While Iain is very much more standoffish and stays at the safe end of a snipers rifle.
Finally Britain can outsize America. HMS Victory is soo much bigger than the USS Constellation, pity we cant match downtown though.
You’d never guess this is the home of the national flag.
Baltimore seems to be endless, but the most lush countryside is only 20 minutes away.
Judies picture perfect farm.
So we’ve left the Caribbean to avoid hurricanes. In Baltimore we get thunderstorms and tornados instead.