Two Days in New York and a Trip to Remember up the Hudson River

After the glorious day we had travelling up the coast and into New York, it seemed inappropriately English to wake up the next day to drizzle and mist, which lasted the entire two days we were at Great Kills on Staten Island. It would have been disappointing if it hadn’t been our third visit to NYC, but we soldiered on and took the express bus into Manhattan regardless of the miserable weather.

The journey took two hours.

But thanks to Google maps and my iPhone, I knew exactly where we were as we crossed the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn, through the tunnel and out into Lower Manhattan, so it felt like a guided tour.

We decided on the Museum of Modern Art, which had been closed for renovation when we came here in 2004, and just about to close for the day in 2012. Quite apart from the building itself, there was so much to see but we concentrated on the Impressionists, Cezanne, Gauguin and Seurat, followed by Picasso, Klimt and Braque.

This is Klimt’s portait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a prominent Vienna industrialist. The painting was taken by the Nazis in 1938, and only returned to the family heirs in 2006. It is on loan to MoMA from the present owner.

IMG_9732Klimt portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

Portrait of Adele Boch-Bauer II

 

We  liked the exhibition of photographs by Grete Stern and her husband Horacio Coppola, whose photographs of London in the 30’s were interesting and evocative.

There was also an exhibition of The Migration of the Negro by Jacob Lawrence, painted in 1940-41 and chronicling the migration of African Americans from the Southern States to the North, after emancipation at the end of the Civil War, in search of work.

view from MoMA

View from MoMA

On the way back, we managed to get on the wrong bus for Great Kills, but the driver very kindly took us there anyway.

On the second day we started off with lunch at the Chelsea Deli and Bakery on the corner of W23rd St and 8th Avenue.

Ordering lunch in the Chelsea Deli & Bakery

Ordering lunch in the Chelsea Deli & Bakery

The Chelsea Deli & Bakery, 8th Avenue

The Chelsea Deli & Bakery, 8th Avenue

We wandered down W 23rd St towards the High Line, a linear park built along the track of a disused railway.

W23rd St, Manhattan

W23rd St, Manhattan

W 23rd St, Manhattan

W23rd St, Manhattan

IMG_9742W 3rd St

W23rd St

W 23rd St

W 23rd St

The High Line runs up to W34th St and is an imaginative use of a derelict site, bringing a green space to the crowded city and a new perspective.

W23rd St from the High Line

W23rd St from the High Line

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The park turning westwards at W34th St

The park turning westwards at W34th St

We turned back up W34th St and had a quick visit to Macy’s.

W34th St

W34th St

W 34th St

W 34th St

Empire State Building, W34th St

Empire State Building, W34th St

Back in the peaceful evening at Great Kills YC

Back in the peaceful evening at Great Kills YC

 

We were feeling quite confident about the journey from Staten Island to Croton-on-Hudson, 20 miles north of New York, on the east bank of the Hudson River. The forecast was waves of  one foot, wind speeds around 10 knots, both well within Carina’s, and our, capabilities.

Staten Island to Croton -on-Hudson

Staten Island to Croton -on-Hudson

The actualite was rather different. By the time we drew level with the Statue of Liberty, the waves were more like 3 feet, and the wind was gusting 30 knots. There was no turning back.

We weren’t sure whether the weather forecast had been wrong, or it was the local effects of the tides, the wakes caused by the many large and small ferry boats, and  the wind funnelling round the tall buildings. But I had gone down from the bridge to take photographs from the foredeck, and found myself trapped there, hanging on to the anchor post, unable to get back up to the bridge, while Carina pitched and tossed her way past Battery Park.

The Verrazano Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn

The Verrazano Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn

Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island

Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island

Lower Manhattan pink and grey in the early morning

Lower Manhattan all pink and grey in the early morning

Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

Ellis Island, the gateway to America for millions.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Battery Park

Battery Park

Jersey City from the Hudson River

Jersey City from the Hudson River

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Washington Heights

Washington Heights

Once we were properly into the Hudson River, things calmed down and perhaps because the immediate stress and danger was passed, the dramamine I’d taken as a precaution against motion sickness kicked in and I slept for the next two hours, waking up only half an hour before we got to Half Moon Bay Marina, where we were staying at Croton. We were consoled to find some other ‘Loopers’ there who had also made the trip from Great Kills that day, who had found the journey just as surprisingly difficult as we had.

The next day we hired a car to drive over to Bronxville, a lovely small town set in wooded hills just north of New York City, to meet my cousin Pat and her daughter Anne. Pat and I hadn’t seen each other for nearly 60 years, and seeing her again and meeting Anne for the first time was just the best thing.

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Sunset at Half Moon Bay

Sunset at Half Moon Bay

Steve, the marina manager at Half Moon Bay, told us there was a Folk and Blues Festival on at the weekend, so we decided to extend our stay to four nights.

We kept the car an extra day so we could see a bit more of the surrounding area.

We went to Kykuit, completed in 1913, and home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Perhaps more interesting than the house itself was the background information about the philosophy, attitudes and values of the first two generations of Rockefellers. They didn’t believe in unnecessary expense, so none of pieces of furniture were genuine antiques, but reproductions. There was no alcohol in the house, no dancing, and no playing cards.

Entrance to Kykuit

Entrance to Kykuit

Pleached limes leading up to the house

Pleached limes leading up to the house

 

This changed over the years, especially after  John D Rockefeller Jr married Abby Aldrich. He didn’t like modern art, so they had to buy a house on W54th St in Manhattan to house her collection, and this was subsequently gifted to the nation and was the basis for MoMA.

The garden though was splendid. Designed mainly by Frederick Law Olmsted, it takes full advantage of Kykuit’s position 500 feet above sea level and overlooking the Hudson Valley. The garden immediately round the house is divided into a series of ‘rooms’.

Near the main entrance

Near the main entrance

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Japanese Rose Garden

Japanese Rose Garden

The photo below shows the hedges trimmed to a wave form to mirror the natural landscape.

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We had seen a small Olmsted garden on the Jacksonville waterfront, but this was on a grand scale.

To balance things up a bit, the next day we went to Fort Montgomery, a few miles further north on the west bank of the river. It was the scene of a bloody battle in the Revolutionary War when the attack by the British on Fort Montgomery and the neighbouring Fort Clinton was intended to  divert American forces away from the British General John Burgoyne’s attempts to gain control of the Hudson River. The victory though was too late for Burgoyne, and he surrendered a week later.

Fort Montgomery - The Powder Store

Fort Montgomery – The Powder Store

32-pounder overlooking the Hudson River

32-pounder overlooking the Hudson River

Officers' and enlisted men's barracks

Officers’ and enlisted men’s barracks

 

Although thunderstorms had been forecast, Sunday was sunny and hot, and we had a fantastic day at the Clearwater Festival. Clearwater had been started in the 60s by Pete Seeger, with the aim of raising awareness about the pollution and destruction of the Hudson River, and putting pressure on General Electric to reverse the damage done over the decades. This has been effective and the river is now much cleaner.

Their mission now is to ‘preserve and protect the Hudson River and its communities, and to inspire, educate, and activate the next generation of environmental leaders’.

Looking towards the Festival site from the marina

Looking towards the Festival site from the marina

As might be expected, there was a very Green vibe, with all rubbish being put into separate recycling bins, lots of craft stalls, and the food on sale was organic, healthy and delicious.

But best of all of course was the music and we saw a wide range, starting off with Tom Paxton & friends, and then the Blind Boys of Alabama. One of the venues had a dance floor, where we saw Orquestra SCC (Salsa dura), Dustbowl Revival (Americana, Bluegrass, Swing and Gospel), and C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band (Zydeco), so we managed some dancing too.

Clearwater Festival, Croton Point Park

Clearwater Festival, Croton Point Park

Some of the audience for Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely

Some of the audience for Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely

We left Half Moon Bay the next day. Steve had been a great host, helping us to make a difficult dock when we arrived in windy conditions, supplying lots of useful information, and taking us in his car to the Festival.

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Ian and Steve

Leaving Half Moon Bay

Leaving Half Moon Bay

The Captain’s latest acquisition has been a pennant holder for the front of the boat, so we set off up the Hudson River with Carina proudly displaying the flag of the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association.

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Margate City to New York

Margate City to Surf City

Margate City to Surf City

We were planning a night at anchor, some 30 miles from Margate City, but Carina had other ideas.

Leaving Margate City

Leaving Margate City

The Barrier Islands of the Jersey Shore are mostly developed, making the wild places we’d seen further south, in North and South Carolina and Georgia, seem all the more special in retrospect.

Margate City

Margate City, showing the junction between fresh and salt water

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The American flag gets everywhere

Ventnor

Ventnor

We had to request a bridge opening at Ventnor. Roadworks were being carried out, and the bridgemaster said he’d be able to open it sooner if we could manage with only half the bridge opened. The Captain thought we could, and Carina edged smoothly through, to applause from the assembled workmen and cries of  ‘Nice job! Nice job!’

Dorset Avenue Bridge, Ventnor

Dorset Avenue Bridge, Ventnor

Shortly after passing through Ventnor, we could no longer ignore Carina’s temperature gauge, which  for the past few days had been giving ’cause for concern’, and two hours after leaving Margate, Ian decided he needed professional advice to avert disaster. So we made an unscheduled visit to Atlantic City and stayed at the Aquarium Marina, a not entirely restful stop, in view of the proximity of our mooring to the bar, and a constant stream of reggae music.

Near Atlantic City

Near Atlantic City

Aquarium Marina, Atlantic City

Aquarium Marina, Atlantic City

Ian rang Brian Smith, of American Diesel, who gave him some very useful suggestions of what the problem might be, and possible remedies. Ian did various  mysterious things in the engine room and the next day we took Carina out for a test run.  Fortunately all seemed well, and after a quick trip on the bikes to the Cedar Grocery Store and the nearby Allstar Liquors for the essentials, we moved on to Surf City where we anchored for the night.

But there were still great wide sounds where all the development receded into the far distance, and the land surrounding them preserved from development. The water was very shallow in places, as seen here in Great Bay.

Shoaling in Great Bay

Shoaling in Great Bay

We somehow managed to wake up at 5am the next day so it was another early start, but this time the sunrise made it worth it.

Surf City, 6.06 am

Surf City, 6.06 am

Surf City to Staten Island

Surf City to Staten Island

From Surf City we travelled up the long inlet of Barnegat Bay up to Traders Cove Marina, Mantoloking. We got a warm welcome from the dockmaster there – the area had been devastated  by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the marina was part of a new municipal park which had only recently re-opened.

We walked over Mantoloking Bridge to where the sea had broken through the shore and fifty homes had been lost. There were bulldozers on the beach area still working on shoring up the sand, and new houses being built.

Mantoloking from the bridge

Mantoloking from the bridge

The way we came - Barnegat Bay from Mantoloking Bridge

The way we came – Barnegat Bay from Mantoloking Bridge

The beach, Mantoloking

The beach, Mantoloking

Mantoloking Bridge

Mantoloking Bridge

Carina at Traders Cove Marina, Mantoloking

Carina at Traders Cove Marina, Mantoloking

Sunday was the big day – the weather had to be just right for the 30-mile stretch of open water we needed to negotiate from Manasquan to Sandy Hook, the long finger of land that stretches into Raritan Bay and New York Harbour.

It was, and we went.

Metedonk River at the northern end of Barnegat Bay

Metedonk River at the northern end of Barnegat Bay

There was a short waterway, the Point Pleasant canal, linking Barnegat Bay with Manasquan Inlet.

Loveland Town Bridge

Loveland Town Bridge

Point Pleasant Canal

Point Pleasant Canal

Manasquan River

Manasquan River

Boats following us out of the canal

Boats following us out of the canal

Mansquan Inlet Railroad Bridge

Manasquan Inlet Railroad Bridge

Opening the railroad bridge

Opening the railroad bridge

As it was a Sunday, there was a long queue of boats waiting to come through the bridge.

Waiting to come through the bridge

Waiting to come through the bridge

Manasquan

Manasquan

Manasquan

Fishing boats at Manasquan

 

At last we could see the ocean ahead of us through the inlet.

Manasquan Inlet

Manasquan Inlet

The inlet was actually the worst part, in terms of the waves and the choppiness. Once we were a mile out to sea things calmed down, and we sat back and enjoyed the thirty-mile stretch along the continuous ribbon of white sand of the northern Jersey Shore, and the exciting moment when we realised we could just make out the faint outline of Brooklyn and Manhattan on the horizon.

The beach at Manasquan

The beach at Manasquan

First glimpse of New York City

First glimpse of New York City

Ian had arranged for us to stay at Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island, where John Calascibetta is the Harbor Host for the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association. John made our stay in New York really special and could not have been more helpful, assisting us to dock in the windy conditions, being a mine of information, lending us a Metro Card so we could get into the city easily, and driving us to the supermarket to re-stock.

He recommended the nearby Cole’s Dockside Restaurant, so after our long day we went there for a great meal and gathered our strength for two days in New York City.

Great Kills, Staten Island

Great Kills, Staten Island

Marinas and Yacht Club, Great Kills

Marinas and Yacht Club, Great Kills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Delaware River and Strolling along the Prom, Cape May

My hopes of a spectacular sunrise as we travelled down the Delaware River were disappointed when the day dawned grey, but at least not cold. We had to get up at the crack of dawn, I had been told, to take advantage of the prevailing tide.

I don’t get out of bed in the morning until I’ve had a cup of tea and saw no reason to vary my rule on this occasion.  The Captain duly put the kettle on at 4.40 am, shortly after we had been woken by his mobile’s tedious tinklings.

It was much too early for breakfast though, or a shower, so we were soon en route, and the Captain’s decision to make an early start was vindicated when the speed gauge showed 9.9 knots, a personal best for Carina.

The grey skies didn’t lift and we turned into the canal just north of Cape May in a good North Tyneside-type sea fret, and moored at the Miss Chris marina.

Arriving at Cape May in a sea fret. Note dophin

Arriving at Cape May in a sea fret. Note dophin

Reedy Island to Cape May

Reedy Island to Cape May

The decision to leave very early was further vindicated when twenty minutes after we had arrived and sorted the boat out, there was a torrential storm with brilliant flashes of lightning and crashing thunder, and we spent the afternoon cowering inside Carina, hoping the lightning wouldn’t strike the mast.

But Sunday was clear and bright and we cycled two miles to Cape May Meadows, which border the beach to the south-west of the town. In the 19th century, South Cape May, where the Meadows are now, was the USA’s first seaside resort.

But the Atlantic storms caused erosion and flooding, and eventually the Victorian houses had to be abandoned to the sea after a particularly violent storm in the 1950s.

The land is privately owned, but managed by the Nature Conservancy, and in 2004 in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, work was started to restore the freshwater wetlands, the dunes and the beach ecosystems. By 2007 the project was complete and has been very successful, with many migratory birds passing through.

Meadow flowers

Meadow flowers

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Amongst the swans, ducks, geese and egrets, we were delighted to see some small black birds with exotic red flashes on their wings, and asked a couple of young Nature Conservancy workers what they were.

‘Oh. Those would be the Red-winged blackbirds.’

At least their Latin name, Agelaius phoenicus, has a less prosaic ring.

Cape May Lighthouse

Cape May Lighthouse

South Cape May beach

South Cape May beach

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Ranunculus bulbosus

Ranunculus bulbosus

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We had lunch at the tiny Jake’s Pizza and Restaurant Co on Sunset Boulevard. Despite the unprepossessing exterior and definitely-no-frills interior, the ham and cheese stromboli was freshly baked, and with a mixed salad and a can of pop (for the Captain, I never touch the stuff) the bill came to $17.

Next stop was the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Club on nearby Congress St, where there was a fund-raising concert being given by the Ben Mauger Vintage Jazz Band.

VFW Club, Cape May

VFW Club, Cape May

The musicians were excellent, and Ben, the leader, injected his humour and personality into the mix too.

The Ben Mauger Vintage Jazz Band

The Ben Mauger Vintage Jazz Band

The VFW was licensed of course, so I got my fizzy drink in the form of a bottle of Sam Adams.

On Monday we explored Cape May City and the main beach. To say it was rather windy would be understatement. Blowing a hooley would be a more accurate meteorological description.

At the beach we were politely intercepted by the Beach Tag Monitor, a pleasant woman in her fifties who asked to see our beach tags.

We said we had no idea what beach tags were.

She explained that they were purchased by the day or week, to allow visitors access to the beach. The money raised paid for lifeguards, litter-pickers and so on. Then she asked us how long we were planning on staying on the beach.

Ian’s beach tolerance threshold is about half an hour at the best of times, and this reduces significantly in biting winds, with grains of sand blowing into one’s face and stinging one’s legs.

Probably about fifteen minutes, we said.

She let us off.

Beach Avenue, Cape May

Beach Avenue, Cape May

Lifeguards huddling in the wind, Cape May

Lifeguards huddling in the wind, Cape May

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We cycled further along the Prom and had an ice-cream (Ian) and hot tea (me) from a little kiosk manned by a pleasant young man who told us that his grandparents lived in Grimsby, and he had cousins in Bristol too. There was also family in Barnsley, ‘But that’s Yorkshire, and they’re a bit like, strange.’

Outside the ice-cream kiosk

Outside the ice-cream kiosk

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There are lots of lovely Victorian houses in Cape May.

Ocean/Columbia St, Cape May

Ocean/Columbia St, Cape May

This particular small hotel seemed to hark back to a bygone era of gentility, not to say refinement.

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IMG_9639Jackson St

Because of the windy weather, we had three nights in the Miss Chris Marina, and never found out who Miss Chris actually was.

Carina at Miss Chris Marina

Carina at Miss Chris Marina

On the marina spectrum, Miss Chris is definitely at the man end. It has fuel, bait, fishing trips, but it has no showers and no laundry. There are whale trips too.

Whale trip leaving from next to Miss Chris Marina

Whale trip leaving from next to Miss Chris Marina

We did see a nice sunset though, and had a very good meal at the nearby Lucky Bones Restaurant. The name of the restaurant was a reference to the charms that the fishermen would take out with them to protect against misfortune when they were at sea.

Sunset at Miss Chris Marina

Sunset at Miss Chris Marina

Our journey up the New Jersey coast to Sandy Hook, which is the last stretch before we get to New York, takes us through a maze of barrier islands, sounds and inlets and the Captain was getting quite exercised about the navigational challenges, ie the possibility, and likelihood, of running aground on one of the many shoaling areas.

Cape May to Margate City

Cape May to Margate City

Crossing Richardson Sound

Crossing Richardson Sound

Shoaling near Stone Harbour

Shoaling near Stone Harbour

Townsend's Inlet

Townsend’s Inlet

Sea Isle City

Sea Isle City

But we had a smooth journey to Sea View Harbour Marina near Margate City.

Margate City

Margate City

The wind made docking tricky, but there were pretty flowerbeds, good shower rooms, a swimming pool, and I finally got the laundry done.

Bound for the Jersey Shore

After a fortnight of hot and humid weather, it was almost a relief, after the violent thunderstorms of Monday night, to wake up to cool grey skies, and leave Baltimore in the rain, clad in two fleeces and a pair of leggings under my trousers.

Leaving Baltimore Northwest Harbor

Leaving Baltimore Northwest Harbor

We headed north up the Bay from Baltimore into the Sassafras River and spent two nights at anchor in a quiet creek there, a tranquil contrast to the excitement of Baltimore.

Baltimore to the Delaware River

Baltimore to the Delaware River

We moored about 300 yards from the jetty of the Mount Harmon Plantation. The house sits on a bluff extending into the Sassafras River, and was built in the 17th Century. At first the plantation produced tobacco, until the crop depleted the soil, and wheat and corn were planted instead.

Mount Harmon House, Back Creek, Sassafras River

Mount Harmon House, Back Creek, Sassafras River

We took the dinghy over and walked up to the house in time for the 11am opening. All seemed strangely quiet, despite a sign on the porch saying ‘tours start here’. We rattled the door, and eventually a young woman appeared, and told us that the house was open only on Thursdays to Sundays. It was Wednesday. But if we were members, we could stroll through the grounds and follow the trails.

We weren’t, but we did anyway, and as we followed the Pond Trail through an uncut meadow, we were rewarded by the sight of several white-tailed deer leaping high out of the grass and bounding away towards the shelter of the woods. There were wild strawberries growing along the path, and the birdsong sounded in the quiet stillness.

Looking north from Mount Harmon over the Sassafras River

Looking north from Mount Harmon over the Sassafras River

Well and Ice House

Well and Ice House

The old working buildings have been preserved and just above the river was the wooden Prize House, where the tobacco leaves were compressed to half their volume before being transported down Chesapeake Bay and then exported to England.

The Prize House

The Prize House

We followed the Cliff Trail round back to the jetty and had our picnic lunch before going back to Carina.

The Sassafas River from the Cliff Trail, Carina in the background

The Sassafas River from the Cliff Trail, Carina in the background

After several weeks of zig-zagging across the Chesapeake Bay, vaguely feeling that this was all very lovely but we weren’t making much progress and NYC still seemed a long way away and we’ve only got six weeks left and only five if you count the week we’ll spend with the family before we go home, suddenly we’re on our way.

The Sassafras River is nearly at the most northerly tip of the Chesapeake Bay, and after one night at the Bohemia Bay Yacht Basin, we were all set to pass through the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal, spend fifteen minutes cutting through the top end of Delaware, and then we’d be in New Jersey.

Leaving Bohemia Bay Yacht Basin

Leaving Bohemia Bay Yacht Basin

The Chesapeake-Delaware Canal is a big shipping channel, with some nice bridges.

Chesapeake City Fixed Bridge

Chesapeake City Fixed Bridge

St Georges Bridge West

St Georges Bridge West

On the C-D Canal

On the C-D Canal

Two years ago, when the trip was just a twinkle in the Captain’s eye, I stood beside the Delaware River in Philadelphia, wondering how I could possibly cope with being on a small boat in such an expanse of water.

Today we entered the river from the canal, and it really isn’t so bad after all. We moored up at Reedy Island, ten miles downstream, ready for the 48-mile journey tomorrow, down the river to Cape May, NJ. We saw the first patch of blue sky for five days, and a pale sun gradually came out.

The small print came into focus too. I’ve been told I have to get up at ‘first light’ – 5am – to take advantage of the tide, at the beginning of what will be a very long day.

It will be pay-back time for real, and in style, when we finally get to Cape May.

Reedy Island, Delaware River

Reedy Island, Delaware River

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Storm clouds gathering later on

Storm clouds gathering later on

The Captain in relaxed mode

The Captain in relaxed mode

 

Annapolis and Charm City

Annapolis to Baltimore

Annapolis to Baltimore

It was pouring with rain when we arrived at the State Capital of Maryland, Annapolis, but the next day the sun shone for the arrival of an excited little VIP who was looking forward to sleeping over on Grandad’s boat.

Ewan and Ted arrive at Annapolis Landing Marina

Ewan and Ted arrive at Annapolis Landing Marina

The marina was very pleasant, and Ian got a friendly greeting from Dusty, the Assistant Dockmaster.

‘You need a new hip.’

He was a retired Orthopaedic surgeon .

We were a couple of  miles across the water from the City Dock, so we took the water taxi which called at the marina.

The Annapolis Water Taxi with Carina in the background

The Annapolis Water Taxi with Carina in the background

The Annapolis horizon is dominated by the Chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy on the shoreline, and the Maryland State House, which is built on a small hill with the old streets radiating from State Circle, and overlooks the whole city. It’s the oldest Legislative Building still in use in the country.

US Naval Academy, Annapolis

US Naval Academy, Annapolis

The Maryland State House, Annapolis

The Maryland State House, Annapolis

City Dock, Annapolis

City Dock, Annapolis

It was Memorial Day weekend, and Graduation Day at the Naval College too, so there was a festive air with lots of flags out and congratulations for the graduating officers.

Enjoying the sunshine

Enjoying the sunshine

After the promised ice-cream, eaten by the City dock with a lot of other people enjoying the sunshine, and a rather tuneless Bob Dylan-wannabe busker, we wandered up the hill to the State House.

Pinkney Street

Pinkney Street

Pinkney St and the Maryland State Flag

Pinkney St and the Maryland State Flag

The Maryland State House

The Maryland State House

Outside the State House

Outside the State House

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Statue of Roger Brooke Taney outside the State House

Statue of Roger Brooke Taney outside the State House

Maryland State House from State Circle

Maryland State House from State Circle

Thurgood Marshall was a son of Baltimore,  an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and its first African American Justice. His statue stands in Lawyers’ Mall, near the State House.

IMG_9488Statue of Thurgood Marshall in the Lawyers' Mall next to the Maryland State House

MainStreet, Annapolis

Main Street, Annapolis

On the Sunday we took Ewan out for a little trip up the creek in the dinghy, and after he and Ted had gone home, crossed over to the City Dock for an inexpensive night on one of the City Harbor buoys, as opposed to a marina.

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Ewan in the dinghy

 

Unfortunately, a combination of strong winds and wakes from the many other boats plying the waters at speed meant that Carina’s vertical/rotational movements were exceeding the limits of crew acceptability, necessitating a ‘conversation’ with the Captain. It was agreed that he would consult the harbourmaster to see if there were any buoys available elsewhere, so after a pleasant afternoon at the Hammond-Harwood House, followed by tea at the Annapolis Bookstore Cafe, we moved round to a buoy in Spa Creek, where I was able to cook dinner without the pans sliding off the cooker.

Prince George St, Annapolis

Prince George St, Annapolis

The flag outside the house is the Revolutionary Flag, with thirteen stars arranged in a circle.

Hammond Harwood House

Hammond Harwood House

Hammond-Harwood House was built in 1774 for Matthias Hammond, and is regarded as a fine example of Colonial  architecture.

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Taking tea at the Annapolis Bookstore Cafe

Taking tea at the Annapolis Bookstore Cafe

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Evening at Spa Creek

 

Next stop Baltimore, aka Charm City.

To get there we passed under the amazing Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

IMG_9516Chesapeake Bay Bridge

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I’d wanted to go to Baltimore for a while, having read and enjoyed many of Anne Tyler’s novels, which are set there.

The marinas in the Inner Harbor are prohibitively expensive, i.e. in the don’t-even-think-about-it bracket, so we stayed on the North Shore of the harbour at Canton, which had a more interesting ordinariness about it than the glassy, glitzy inner harbour. It reminded me a little of parts of East London – a combination of old, run-down buildings, old buildings that have been saved and converted into dwellings, and new-build designed to complement the old. Some of the streets have the old cobbles and in places you can see the remnants of the train tracks that used to run down to the docks.

Plantings making all the difference to townhouses off Boston St, Canton

Plantings making all the difference to townhouses off Boston St, Canton

Thames St, Fell's Point, Baltimore

Thames St, Fell’s Point, Baltimore

Wiew from Anchorage Marina, Canton, Baltimore

View from Anchorage Marina, Canton, Baltimore

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Inner harbour area of Baltimore

 

We set off on the bikes the next day to go to Fort McHenry, on the far side of the harbour. The day didn’t start well.

I rounded a corner to see Ian in the distance, cycling towards the end of a paved jetty, presumably to photograph the harbour scene. I caught up with him, only to find it was a case of mistaken identity, and the real Ian had apparently vanished.

Working on the principle that when you don’t know what to do, it’s probably best to do nothing, I stood in the sun, trying to look visibly obvious, but without drawing undue and unwanted attention to myself.

He answered at my second attempt at phoning, and a sharp exchange of words duly followed. It was just as well that we hadn’t adopted our usual practice of not bothering to take our phones with us.

Paved jetty looking south across the harbour

Paved jetty looking south across the harbour

But the day improved. We cycled a bit further on to find a water taxi parked at a jetty, and the Captain let us put the bikes on. It took us to a stop just a few hundred yards from the entrance to Fort McHenry, and saved us cycling several miles in the heat.

Chatting to a fellow passenger on the water taxi

Chatting to a fellow passenger on the water taxi

View from Fell's Point

View from Fell’s Point

Fort McHenry was where the British were finally vanquished in 1814, so we felt we should pay our respects, so to speak. The young man on the desk gave us a funny look when he heard our accents, but rose to the occasion and explained the history to us. The war of 1812-14 was a complicated matter, compounded by Great Britain’s long war with France, Britain’s vicious trade restrictions on the young nation, and the Americans’ treatment of the Native Americans who were being forced to move from their homelands and territories by the new country’s westward expansion.

The Star Spangled Banner was an oversized American flag which was commissioned by George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry. He wanted a flag ‘so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance’. It was sewn in Baltimore by Mary Pickersgill and members of her family in Baltimore, and inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem The Defence of Fort McHenry which more than a hundred years later, became the national anthem.

Looking south, Fort McHenry

Looking south, Fort McHenry

Entrance to the fort

Entrance to the fort

Officers' quarters

Officers’ quarters

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Statue of Orpheus

Statue of Orpheus

The Statue of Orpheus stands in the park behind the fort, surrounded by a grove of flowering crab apple trees. It was commissioned in 1916 to honour Francis Scott Key and those who had defended Baltimore in the 1812 War.

Fort McHenry remained in use by the US Army until 1925, since when it has been preserved as a national monument.

We cycled back through Locust Point towards the Inner Harbor.

Row Houses, Decatur St, Locust Point

Row Houses, Decatur St, Locust Point

It was by now nearly 3 o’clock and we were getting a bit desperate for food. We decided to stop at the first establishment we came to. This turned out to be the Rusty Scupper, which occupies a commanding point on the south side of the Inner Harbor.

My heart sank as, dishevelled and perspiring, we entered the cool, air conditioned lobby. The place was vaguely reminicscent of the Royal Hongkong Yacht Club, the waiters smartly attired in matching ties, long-sleeved shirts and trousers, and the tables laid with white cloths, sparkling glassware and neatly folded napkins.

I was mortified.

But looking down their noses at inappropriately-dressed foreigners seems to be something that Americans don’t do, and we were made very welcome. Lunch was delicious, and very reasonably priced.

View across the harbour from the Rusty Scupper

View across the harbour from the Rusty Scupper

Inside the Rusty Scupper

Inside the Rusty Scupper

We cycled back to the marina via the Inner Harbor.

USS Constellation

USS Constellation

IMG_9550Inner Harbor

Enjoying the fountains

Enjoying the fountains

The Public Works Museum, sadly closed through lack of funding

The Public Works Museum, sadly closed through lack of funding

The next day we decided to try out the Charm City Circulator, a free bus service that’s supposed to run every ten minutes. After waiting nearly half an hour, and seeing three pass in the opposite direction, we gave up and took a taxi to the Walters Art Museum in the Mount Vernon District.

The Walters Art Museum, the gift 80 years ago of William T Walters and his son Henry, was world-class, with exhibits ranging from the Ancient World, through Byzantine, Islamic, Romanesque and Gothic to Italian, French and Spanish Art, and European Ceramics of the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

But the most moving was the exhibition of children’s reactions, thoughts and feelings about the Uprising the month before – the riots that had shaken Baltimore after the death in police custody of Freddie Gray. The teachers at Matthew Henson Elementary School, where Freddie Gray had been a pupil, had helped the children express their thoughts, fears and hopes  for the future and composed a song ‘Save Baltimore’.

The Washington Monument, near the Walters Art Museum

The Washington Monument, near the Walters Art Museum

We decided to give the Charm City Circulator another go, but after we walked under a large expressway and found ourselves surrounded by parking lots and slightly odd-looking people, it was clear that we were no longer in the part of town to which visitors usually confined themselves, and even, possibly, in what the Lonely Planet Guide termed a ‘crime-ridden area’.

We couldn’t see the Charm City Circulator stop, but a gentleman kindly pointed us in the right direction. We ran gratefully across the road just as the bus appeared, and were soon back in the now-familiar landscape of Fell’s Point.

We took a few days’ break from the boat, having been invited to go to Sophie’s graduation from pre-school. There was a performance of Peter Rabbit in which Sophie very competently played the role of Old Mrs Rabbit, as well as some songs and the presentation of certificates.

Sophie as Old Mrs Rabbit

Sophie as Old Mrs Rabbit

At the 4R's Pre-school Graduation

At the 4R’s Pre-school Graduation

There were warnings of thunderstorms when we got back to Baltimore, so we stayed another night.

Ian finds walking uncomfortable at the moment, so I am occasionally allowed out by myself. I had a walk down Aliceanna Street in Fell’s Point, where there are quite a few funky little shops and restaurants, to check out a dress I’d noticed in one of the boutiques. It was a successful trip, and the boutique, Babe, had an admirable philosophy.

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I love finding wild flowers growing in cities. I saw this growing in several places, and thought it was scabious, but it is chicory, Cichorium intybus, and was used by Southern soldiers instead of coffee. Thank you Fred P. for putting me right on that one!

Scabious growing near the waterfront

Cichorium intybus growing near the waterfront

 

The war of 1812 is etched deep into the consciousness and identity of Baltimoreans, as evidenced by the number of them who refer to it on the numberplates of their cars. It’s even invoked in campaigns against traffic congestion.

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My morning’s errand was really to stock up on wine and beer. Many supermarkets don’t stock it, and this was the case with the  Safeway near the marina. So I had to go to the Canton Market, a liquor store with a deli. An odd combination, but there you are.

I had just finished paying at the counter for my supplies when an elderly man, with baseball cap, long grey hair and long grey beard appeared beside me.

‘I love your hair,’ he said. ‘As an artist. As a man.’

I thanked him and said he had made my day.

‘You made mine, daughter.’

The promised thunderstorms, now upgraded to a severe weather warning, appeared in the late afternoon and continue as I write. Whether we’ll be able to make the journey north tomorrow, to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, remains to be seen.