The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

Postcards from Oh! - Caribbean and Atlantic Circuits II

Rod Morris

2006 Robertson and Caine Leopard 40’ Catamaran
December 4th, 2019

Every journey begins with a single step – and so does another adventure for Oh!. After spending the summer back in Canada, I returned to Annapolis on October 4, to prepare Oh! for another 18 month circuit of the Caribbean and Atlantic islands. The previous circuits were incredible, and I am looking forward to welcoming old friends back and making new friends along the way. The journey starts from Oh!’s furthest point north, Galloway Creek near Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay. I have come here to meet up with Ted, one of my guests from the previous circuit who has gone on to fulfilling his dream of sailing the world. In just 14 months, from virtually no experience, Ted became the proud owner and captain of Stet, a Lagoon 42 and has accumulated over 10,000 miles of ocean passages along the way. He’s living his dream and it is wonderful to see how he has grown in confidence and skill with each passing voyage.

Oh!’s 2020 sailing plans. Heading south to where the butter melts, the waters are clear… and it is warm!

Stet and Oh! had our first rendezvous last spring in the Bahamas, and together we cruised the northern Exuma Islands on our way to Nassau. We then paired up for the voyage north to Annapolis to escape the hurricane season and get Oh! hauled out for the summer. Sailing together was great fun as we enjoyed the warm clear waters of the Bahamas and the voyage north.

Stet and Oh! in the Bahamas illustrate two different Catamaran design philosophies. Snorkelling with an 8- 10’ wingspan Spotted Eagle Ray and one of the Bahama’s many underwater sculptures.

Over the summer Oh! had new bronze through-hulls and rudder bearings installed, bottom painted, some welding repairs and upgrades, the Genoa inspected and upgraded, a new mainsail added, Maus fire extinguishers added to compliment the dry powder extinguishers, many rigging upgrades, new starter batteries, replaced the fuel lines, engines serviced, as well as dozens of other items ticked off the endless “to do list”.

Oh! gets new bottom paint and refreshed boot stripes. Cold galvanizing and reversing the anchor chain… then adding more chain markers. Almost $600 worth of “bits” to replace the worn pins and cars for the mainsail – note the wear on the mid-section of one of the Antal car pins, it should be all the same diameter.

Meanwhile Ted and Stet spent the summer in the Northern Chesapeake, visiting with old friends and making some new ones – who have been fantastic. Once again the cruising community never ceases to amaze me with their generosity and the “arms open welcome” we’ve experienced. A simple compliment of “how beautiful Stet was” from a passing boater, lead to an invitation to come aboard Stet and a summer of friendship and adventures for Ted and his new friends. The welcome mat rolled out for Oh! as soon as Oh! met up with Stet on October 27 in Galloway Creek. The warmth of the locals has helped counter balance the cool fall days and near freezing temperatures each night, as Oh! does not have a heater. We spent 8 days meeting Ted’s new friends and enjoying dinner and afternoon visits.

Fall colours along the Maryland shores, beautiful sunrises and some of Ted’s new friends enjoying an afternoon visit on Stet.

We also made a lot of provisioning runs and completed more of the “to do” list stuff. Rigging Oh!’s new mainsail was a lot more involved than I anticipated and lead to the discovery of a lot of expensive, worn out parts that needed replacement. What was thought to be a half day job turned into 2 ½ days spread out over a week. However, it gave Ted and me ample time to discuss our mutual cruising plans. Stet is heading for the Bahamas for the winter, while Oh! is heading for Bermuda, St. Martin and the BVI’s. I hope to rendezvous with Stet again in the Bahamas in late March, 2020.

Oh!’s new main sail ready for shipping from the UK Sail loft located in Sidney, BC. Ted and I sorting out all the “new stuff” that came with the mainsail while anchored in Galloway Creek, Maryland.

However, before leaving to head south, a day trip to Washington DC was a must. It is an easy train connection from nearby Martin Airport, named after the Lockheed Martin Company just 10 minutes away by car. Ted’s friends Colleen and Jim, had offered to drive me to the train station at 0630h. If there is a need… the helping hands of the cruising community always seem to appear. I first met Colleen while out enjoying an evening row along the waterfront. She called me over to ask if I was on one of the “cats in the bay”. She was amazed to find out her new friend Ted from Stet, was also my friend. We chatted on her dock about the area, community and local history until it got so dark we couldn’t see each other, and it ended with an offer that if I needed anything just let her know. As I have said so many times…for me, cruising is not about the sailing…it is all about the people and places along the way.

Some of the many distinctive and evolving Architectural styles of the U.S. Capital.

The US capital, and more specifically the famous Smithsonian Institutions, have long been near the top of my bucket list. However, clearly a one day tour was never going to cover it all. At best it will provide lots of incentive to return in the future to see more. Well, my short 12 hour visit did not disappoint me! From the moment I stepped into Union Station’s Grand Hall, the experience is incredible. Magnificent buildings on a grand scale set in rolling hills and along grand avenues greet you. Ornate lamp posts and huge Oak and Hemlock trees provide a soft transition to monolithic, yet beautifully ordained white marble buildings. A stroll along the Mall from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial takes you past massive buildings housing the Smithsonian’s collections. As the Smithsonian Institution expanded over the past 173 years, each building acquired its own unique style, reflecting the ever evolving creativity of architectural design. Multiple gardens, sculpture parks and memorials create beautiful areas to explore, or find a place to relax. At over 4 kilometers long, the Mall has large expanses of grass and treed spaces that provide separation between the massive monuments and memorials, giving each a unique setting and powerful presence.

Three of the many war memorials on the Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Each was thought provoking and distinctive –these are the WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War memorials.

The war memorials are sobering and at the same time a beautiful blend of architecture, art and message. The evolution of the styles of the memorials is also interesting. They form a transition from bronze statues of celebrated leaders, and brave soldiers – enduring horrible conditions with grim faces as they solder on – to the moving, black-polished granite wall of the Vietnam War Memorial. In the end, maybe the most sobering realization was the simple fact that the Mall is huge and there remains plenty of green space waiting to be occupied. Clearly the world has not yet learned from our past, and undoubtedly there will be many more memorials added in the future.

I really enjoy public art and there are many sculpture gardens and individual works on display. One could easily spend several days just exploring all the nooks and crannies along the Mall.

It takes many hours to stroll the length of the Mall. It could be done much faster on rentable e-scooters, but the experience would be rushed. There was only time left for one or two museums, and so the Air and Space Museum, and Native Americans Museums were selected. Both are filled with interesting displays. In the Air and Space Museum, one of the best exhibits was dedicated to the Wright Brothers. These were two very inventive guys. The collection of stuff they invented – to invent their airplane – were almost as amazing as the plane itself. Coming from my own experience and enjoyment of gliding (soaring), the physics and theory of flight seems pretty straight forward. However, things are always so clear with the benefit of hindsight. Unraveling the mysteries of lift, balance, lateral and vertical control – plus how to create thrust and control it, were all incredible feats of scientific observation, invention and engineering skill – with the humble bicycle playing a key supporting role!

The Wright Brothers display and the Evolution of Navigation display at the Air and Space Museum were particularly interesting. The bicycle in the photo was used to test foil shapes to maximize lift and propulsion on the famous Wright Brothers airplane. The evolution of measuring “Time” –  is the essential dimension of all modern navigation systems.

There was also a great exhibit on how global navigation evolved. I spent over an hour engaged in learning how navigational challenges of early explorers were slowly overcome. Persistence and huge financial rewards finally lead to the development of a clock precise enough to allow for early navigators to determine their position accurately to within 0.5 of a degree (30 nautical miles, or within 182,283 ft). Today we enjoy GPS positioning in an instant from an iPhone that is accurate to within 15 feet, or 12,219 times more precise! It is so accurate and easy to use, that I use an app on my iPhone as my anchor watch; it is far more effective than the chart plotter when I am in a deep sleep at 0300h! Just imagine sailing the poorly charted waters of the world, knowing the most accurate position you could define was somewhere within 30 nautical miles. Yet, that was a huge accomplishment and major advancement in maritime navigation and it wasn’t very long ago!

The beautiful flowing curves of the Native Americans Museum, and just a few of the huge collection of exhibits on display.

Fortunately, one half of the Air and Space Museum was closed, or I would not have had any time for the Native Americans Museum. As with many good museums, the architecture of the building (both inside and out), was as interesting as the exhibits. The elegant curves of the sandstone walls, with overhangs and cascading waterfalls, is a work of art in itself and simply draws you in. The interior is even more stunning and contains many more exhibits than I had time to view. One of the most thought provoking was a large room filled with examples of how native culture and heritage is found throughout our contemporary North American culture today. From names of places and slang, such as the naming of motorcycles or Tomahawk cruise missiles and sports teams – the many distinct Native American cultures are very much a part of our daily North American lives. I am looking forward to seeing much more of that museum on my next visit to Washington.

The day visit to Washington DC far exceeded my hopes and expectations. If you ever get the chance, try to set aside a week to explore this amazing city. It was a long day with many miles of wearing down the soles of my hiking sandals – clearly the first day of my next adventure was far more than a single step! There was so much to do and see, it was like taking a drink from the out flow of the Hoover Dam, but what a great way to mark the end of Oh!’s summer haul out… and the start of Oh!’s next adventure.

The time had come to start moving south. Oh!’s next Caribbean and Atlantic circuit officially began on November 5, as the anchor was pulled from the mud of shallow Galloway Creek. For the next six weeks Oh! will be voyaging south toward the warm weather and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. I am looking forward to welcoming guests aboard Oh! and sharing that adventure!


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