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Boating

After more than a century in the water, keeping Thomas Point alive is no easy task 

 

      As Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse loomed ever closer in the brackish waters of Chesapeake Bay, John Potvin placed one leg on the edge of Audacious, a pristine white deadrise.      The fishing boat’s engine roared and sputtered as it neared the historic landmark: a towering, red-and-white circular house squating on crisscrossed metal beams. 

For the 32nd straight year, Fowler will lead friends and family into the Patuxent to make a point. For the first time, Betty Fowler won’t be with him.

 

      When 95-year-old Bernie Fowler leads people into the Patuxent River on Sunday, the river in his heart will be one neither you nor I can imagine.      For the chain of followers linked arm in arm with the river champion in the annual test of water clarity, statistics tell the story of the river’s woes or redemption. Can the put-upon river with its D-grade report card achieve its Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan targets for 2025?

Find more fun on updated water trail maps

      Finding a place to put your boat in the water is a little easier this spring, thanks to the passionate paddlers who have mapped it out for you.

These sailors don’t need a boat, or a partner, to get out on the water

     Lora Dania was divorced and sailing mostly with couples when she checked out a group called Singles on Sailboats. “I wasn’t looking for a dating club,” she says. “I just wanted to get out on the water.” 

This is the place sailors meet their dreamboats

      The Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show, April 26 to 28 at City Dock, features more than 70 boats in the water and on land. Most are ready to go for your sailing adventures this season. You can buy on the spot and probably get a good deal. Or you can shop, compare, dream and learn about charter and boat-sharing options.

The longer your boat’s operated reliably, the sooner you can expect a failure

      Pulling the weather cover off the stern of my skiff, I saw the first of my problems. Some time last fall I must have had to get into the winter-prepped boat. Why I’m not sure, but it was well forward in the console. That I could tell from the muddy tracks. Since the trail remained on my deck all winter, I knew it was going to take some elbow grease to get it scrubbed out. That job became No. 1 on my shakedown list.

Oh buoy!

      If you’re wondering what that large Coast Guard vessel is doing maneuvering about on the Chesapeake this time of year, we have the answer.       It’s the James Rankin, and the black-hulled, 175-foot ship has just begun the task of replacing 77 Bay buoys.      Why do it when the icy winds blow? That’s the point; an accumulation of ice and snow can submerge the large buoys marking channels, which can threaten ship captains for whom winter is just another boating season. 

What should we do to push back the tide?

      Dozens of islands in Chesapeake Bay were home to human populations, farms, forests, even a few stores and hotels, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Starting in the early 1900s, islanders migrated to the mainland. Now all but two of these offshore islands have disappeared or no longer sustain the communities that once thrived in isolation.

Learn the basics of power boating or brush up on your skills with three new affordable on-water courses for everyone in the family during the U.S. Powerboat Show.

      Intro to Boating and Women Making Waves, both three hours long, are offered at $149 and include show admission (ages 21+). A new 90-minute program for teens ages 13-19, Junior Captain, is priced at $99 and includes show admission for the enrolled teen and parent. Adult class size is limited to four students per vessel, while teen boats are limited to three. This ensures each student gets sufficient time at the helm under the watchful eye of a U.S. Coast Guard-certified instructor.
      For the first two weeks of October, the U.S. Boat Shows are the hottest ticket in Annapolis. 
If the boat bug has bitten you, taken even a little nibble, you’ll walk the blocks of exhibits and miles of floating dock in awe at the wonders of marine technology. As for boats themselves, you’ll see hundreds, including lots of new design trends and models on display with sellers persuasively explaining the merits of their craft.