Sunday, June 3, 2007

A Sailor's Memorial Day in Baltimore Inner Harbor

Memorial Day – Baltimore Inner Harbor

What do New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida residents have in common? Boating and our annual Memorial Day sail to Baltimore Inner Harbor. This year only nine of us made it to Baltimore, although in past years we have had as many as 14 boats arriving to spend Memorial Day weekend together.

Every Memorial Day for the past 20 years, visitors to Baltimore Inner Harbor have observed our O-Dock raft up in the harbor anchored near the World Trade Center and the National Aquarium. You can’t miss us; we always fly all our flags during the day and at night, we light up our boats. We must be the backdrop for hundreds of visitors’ photographs, as well as the background for the local TV station’s morning news program. As avid sailors we always enjoy spending time with our friends, especially on special weekends. We have chosen Baltimore Inner as our destination to celebrate and honor our servicemen and to share time with our friends.

All of us have our boats at Mears Point Marina located at Kent Narrows on the Eastern Shore. During the sail season, we often don’t have time to sail together, but all of us look forward to our first sail of the season. During the early part of the season – March and April - we begin to recommission our boats and to make plans for our Memorial Day weekend cruise. We always plan some special activity together; this year, on Saturday evening we celebrated Salsa Saturday; do I need to explain? On Sunday, we attended an Orioles ball game, and yes, they did win. On Saturday evenings as you are strolling along the harbor, promenade, you will often hear our music. Jane, proud owner of Bliss, always has special music ready for our enjoyment along with her many percussion toys. If you hear steel drum music, that would be Jane playing along with the music. I, myself, am an especially talented guiro player. Just don’t ask my wife! She doesn’t believe I have good rhythm.

I often wonder what the paddle and dragon boats must think when they see our vessels approach the harbor and begin to anchor and tie together. I know they are always amazed at the aromas drifting from our grills; we do eat very well on board. No canned beef stew for us! Three years ago, my wife was watching all the paddle boats when she spied my brother’s family on one of them. I quickly jumped into the dinghy and invited them to come on board for a visit. Several hours later after dinner and some great conversation, they finally departed for home in northern Virginia. Shortly after Christmas the following year, I received an email from my nieces asking if they could come again the following year. Of course! They did, however, miss this year because of a family illness.

This year we had oldest sailor, my father-in-law, Terry age 69 on Scotch and Water and the youngest, our grandson Aaron age 7 months on Zufrieden. Terry on Cloud Nine made his first solo sail while our good friend Ron on Last Dance made his solo sail after his wife Carol died from cancer last fall. Even though she was not physically present, we all felt her there in spirit. Jeff on Rising Tide was very proud and happy that his two sons were along; they were extremely helpful during our quick break up when a severe thunder storm went through the harbor Sunday evening. And we couldn’t have a raft up without Gene on Seawoof as our main anchor boat. Ron’s good friend, John on Tranquility and John’s brother on Belle Ami completed this year’s raft.

If you missed us this year, don’t worry. We will be back next Memorial Day flying our flags, playing our music, and grilling our dinner. Of course you can pose for a photo with our boats as your backdrop. We don’t charge for the service; we’re having too much fun ourselves.