Volume 1 Issue 8 1993

Previously inaccessible archives from 1993-1997 now coming on-line, with more each week! Note that this is working copy (uncorrected text, no photos, including covers).

On the Chesapeake Bay, Windsurfers Find a Howling Good Time Who's Here
1st Person: Learn to Windsurf Like I Did—In a Weekend
Farmers Market
Health Wine Fest
Dock of the Bay Sky Facts
Editorial Bay History
Commentary Bay Touring

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On the Chesapeake Bay, Windsurfers Find a Howling Good Time
by Sandra Martin

Neon butterflies skim the spume, spangling the Chesapeake. The sun strikes silver on their Mylar wings. Their sport feels, they say, as good as it looks. “Windsurfing’s the closest thing I know to flying,” says pleasure surfer Janet Therrien of Silver Spring.

In the calm months of summer, the shallow Bay is an ideal spot to master the sport. That’s just what ever-growing numbers of folks are doing—from five-foot matrons like Janet to strapping six-footers, from six-year-old kids to their sixtyish grandparents.

If you learn now, you may be good enough for a wild ride this fall, when the Chesapeake is at its windsurfing best. Then, a 20-knot wind will drive hearty board sailors, cocooned in wet or dry suits, over chill waters. “Spring or fall, the Chesapeake is thrilling,” says Dave Buemi of Kent Island, a top racer who competes nationally. “It’s big and it can be rough and demanding.”

From windsurfers striving to be the best in the world to pleasure-seekers challenging their personal best, the Chesapeake has them all. Here are a few:

Scott Steele, of Annapolis rode his board to a second-place finish in windsurfing’s first Olympiad, in Los Angeles in 1984.

“The trials were the hardest part. There’s one winner per country—and no second place," Steele recalls. When the 10-day trials were over, the United States’ hopes rode with Steele.

After months of California preparation, Steele had a home-water advantage. “The winds shifted a certain way each afternoon. I had them figured out like clockwork.” In three out of seven races, the wind shifted as he expected. “Those three got me a silver medal,” Steele says.

Nine years after his silver victory, Steele still flies high. He’s sailing coach at Georgetown University and advisor to the U.S. Olympic windsurfing committee.

The Best College Team in the Country, the U.S. Naval Academy, sails out of Annapolis. The midshipmen have won championship after national championship since1984, when an unlikely Scotsman took charge.

James Coutts describes himself as a mountaineer, fly fisherman, car and bicycle racer—as well as coach of the Naval Academy’s windsurfing team, director of training for the U.S. Yacht Racing Union and director of American Windsurfing School at Sandy Point State Park.

But mastering windsurfing’s apparently effortless ride took months of labor, even for so seasoned an outdoorsman as Coutts. So he started working on a safe, foolproof instructional system.

“Now, the competence it took us self-taught sailors a year to achieve can be reached in hours by beginners,” says the wiry, self-assured Scot.

His achievement won him Great Britain’s prestigious Winston Churchill fellowship and brought him to the States. Here, he’s caught on. Coutts’ system is now the standard for instruction both here and in Great Britain.

Dave Buemi, is a Pacesetter among American windsurfers. “Nine years ago, when we were all sailing on technologically primitive equipment, he was doing things most of us can’t do today. He’s got monstrous skills,” says windsurfing newsletter publisher Scott Johnson.

Buemi, of Bay Ridge, habitually makes his home no more than a few feet from the Chesapeake because he sails virtually every day, often searching for the right wind in half a dozen places. Sometimes he finds it.

If not in Maryland, Buemi will catch up with the wind in Florida or maybe Maui. His life has been the stuff windsurfers’ dreams are made of—exotic places, sun all year long and top prizes for himself and his teams in races most windsurfers only read about in WindRider, the sport’s glossy. Buemi is head of Mistral North America, one of the sport’s leading equipment makers.

Annapolitan Lianne Randall IS a Rising Star. She fell under windsurfing’s spell at St. Mary’s College while studying biology. Soon she was racing, and ever since she’s not cared much for anything else except board-sailing.

Randall won a place on North Sails’ racing team in 1990. Racing in the women’s class as an amateur, she competed for trophies instead of prize money, but she was eager for the competition:

“I wanted to know just how good I was getting,” she says.

In her Florida debut, Randall ran away with the race. “She left all those fair weather surfers gaping,” says Buemi, then her team manager. Last year, she won the Bermuda Race Week Snipe competition in her second love, two-person sailboats.

She’s now a high school teacher, spending her summers off teaching windsurfing beginners at American Windsurfing School. Coutts, her boss, says she belongs back on the racing circuit.

One of Hundreds of Chesapeake pleasure windsurfers is Scott Johnson, of Washington, who publishes the windsurfing newsletter.He finds renewal alone with the wind, crossing this great Bay.

But, he says “you’re never entirely alone. On the Chesapeake, you don’t have many sharks to worry about. Stinging nettles are no problem unless you fall. You can steer out of most cargo ships’ way. But there are some things you need to watch out for,” Johnson says.

One day, something bizarre floated up alongside his board. “I nearly dropped my sail, until I realized it was a pair of frolicking stingrays. They were almost touching me with the tips of their huge wings.”

The ever-surprising Chesapeake is not coastal California—where windsurfing was born in the early 1970s—with waves as high as dreams. It’s not Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge with its wild wind tunnel. It lacks Maui’s isolated blue allure, unflagging wind and leaping waves.

Yet the Chesapeake holds its place secure in the almanac of windsurfing.

Another Chesapeake distinction, the Chesapeake Bay Crossing, is the East Coast’s longest windsurfing race at 20 to 26 miles. Surfers crisscross the mid-Bay on a cat’s cradle course designed by James Coutts, who founded the run nine years ago. This year’s race is
November 6-7, when the wind’ is likely to be howling.

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1st Person

Learn to Windsurf Like I Did—In a Weekend
by Stephanie Linebaugh

My goal of the summer was to learn how to windsurf. Living on the Bay, I’ve seen quite a bit of windsurfing. It looked so effortless and fun, I was dying to try it. When family friends brought their board to our beach, I had my chance.

After an hour and a-half, I was dying of exhaustion and my back was killing me. I figured you must have to be really strong or athletic—two things I am not.

I was just about to give up my goal when I got windsurfing lessons at James Coutts’ American Windsurfing Schools at Sandy Point State Park. I became a windsurfer in a weekend.

Coutts’ windsurfing expertise has brought him international renown, taking him from his home in Scotland to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he is windsurfing coach.

But in 1976, he had no more clue than I did. Less, in fact; he’d only seen a video with sailboards gliding through the waters of Southern California. Teaching himself to sail cost so much time and effort that he set out to revolutionize windsurfing with a new teaching system.”

My lessons at American Windsurfing Schools were to span two days of four hours each. Classes were small so I got all the personal attention I needed. The lessons were even guaranteed. If either Coutts or I didn’t feel confident that I had achieved “national award skills level,” I’d get further instruction for free.

Day 1
My class of six had one thing in common: we’d come to have fun. Otherwise, we were different in many ways. None of us were ballet dancers or boxers, who, along with gymnasts and skiers, learn the fastest. That’s because all of them depend more on balance than strength. Men supposedly have a harder time than women because they tend to rely on power and strength rather than balance and technique.

Instruction started on the simulator, a windsurfing board wired so that it can pivot and turn as if it were on the water and in the wind. We covered all the main parts of the board, their uses and proper positions. We learned how to mount the board and get into standard position. Then, without getting wet, we tried for ourselves. In everything Coutts taught us, he pointed out what was safe and what was not. We learned never to mount the board on the same side as the sail, for we might get squeezed between the board and the mast. We learned always to wear our safety leashes and never to leave the board except for three reasons:

  • You step into another boat or craft;
  • You are able to stand in water no deeper than your waist;
  • You can perform self-rescue. This technique of derigging the board while on the water allows the sailor freedom to paddle to shore without leaving the board. It’s used if the the wind dies out or picks up to more than you can handle. .

I began knowing nothing. By the end of the first day, I knew the windsurfing board. I could put it together, take it down, do basic sailing and save myself. But my knowledge was only theory, and I was anxious to prove myself.

Day 2
We took to the water with our boards in self-rescue position so we would have to rig up once we got out there. We paddled out to our assigned buoys and connected the tether, so we could practice what we had learned without drifting into anyone or anything.

Instructors paddled nearby on boards without sails to help us out, givefurther help and remind us of what we had learned: Backs straight, butts in, heads up, arms straight.

I am afraid I didn’t increase the number of students who James can brag had learned without ever falling in. I took a few back flops and had arms flailing trying to keep my balance more than a few times. But I am proud to say that after two hours on the water I could stand up, sail, turn and go the other way. It felt great! Once I was going nothing could stop me, except the tether. Eventually I was let go free to practice.

I didn’t get far. My downfall had nothing to do with sailing or the instructors. I simply couldn’t bear the heat any more. Weak and dizzy, I didn’t have the strength to lift the sail. An instructor who saw that I was in trouble traded places with me. She sailed in and I paddled, feeling like a wimp.

Day Two ended with everyone agreeing that they were better off than when they started.

Day 3
Because of the heat, I was unable to reach the skill level I desired. So on the following Wednesday, I was back—the only student to two instructors. A new, slightly smaller board seemed to make a big difference. It was much easier to pull up the mast and control the sail. I practiced sailing with new understanding for the relationship between the sail and the wind. I learned turns and faster turns. I am very proud to say that I did not fall once.

When I tried to move up a size in sail to gain more power, the going was much more difficult. With more practice, I think I can use a bigger sail; now I have all I can do to concentrate on keeping the mast up.

Though I am not quite ready for the pros, it feels good to be able to jump onto a board and go.

Thanks to James, Lianne, Christine and Matt for helping me achieve my twentieth summer goal.

Stephanie Linebaugh lives in Fairhaven Cliffs and studies marine biology at St. Mary’s College.

Do It Yourself: Stephanie’s Basic Qualification Course at American Windsurfing Schools (410/757-4574), at Sandy Point State Park beneath the Bay Bridge, costs $99. With tuition comes Coutts’ manual, Start Windsurfing Right! A second book for coaches, Windsurfing: Start Racing Right!, is soon to be published.

Other training is available, and boards and rigs can be rented.

Apply the cost of your course to your own rig at Windsurfing Unlimited in Annapolis (410/757-8008) and Bethesda (301/951-0705).

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Coping With Poison Ivy
by Ben Gruda, Alternet Wire Service, (with New Bay Times’ suffering staff)

Now that summer is here, so are “itchy” threats--poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

Whadda you mean, summer? I can show you a woman who caught it in the dead of winter from carrying in fireplace logs wrapped in old vines. She scratched right up to the spring equinox.

Over 60 plants can cause a rash or sensitivity, but the Anacardiaceae biological family—those dang ivies—are the most troublesome .

Poison ivy is found in abundance throughout the United States and Canada.

But the Atlantic Coast is where it belongs. It ought to be Maryland’s state flower. Elsewhere, it thrives only in disturbed habitats. Here, it doesn’t have to wait for bulldozers, roads, or lightning storms. It’s a happy native.

Identify it by its characteristic three-lobe clusters of leaflets on stalks and white berries that appear in the fall. It grows as a vine or shrub and causes problems for most individuals who come in contact with it. Yeah, but we all know the smart aleck who says he or she doesn’t get it. Tell ‘em for me they could be next. You don’t necessarily stay immune.

The real culprit is a complex product known as urushiol that isdistributed throughout the plant. Surprisingly, casual contact with an unbruised or unbroken plant will not cause a problem; it is only when the stem or leaf is broken and the oily urushiol resin comes in contact with the skin that a rash or dermatitis will occur.

A farmer I know who lived on 12 poison-ivy-filled acres raised goats. The goats never got poison ivy, but he knew he would. So he drank the milk of the goats who grazed on poison ivy to desensitize himself. As usual, they didn’t get it. He did.

Exposure usually produces an itching or burning rash followed by raised lesions with fluid accumulating in blister-like formations on the skin. The rash may be swollen or hot and oozing and usually becomes dry and crusty.

Don’t rash or dermatitis me. Those first few innocent bumps soon erupt into a blistery blaze that’s a good introduction to leprosy. Then you ooze and itch like devils are under your skin.

Urushiol also clings to clothing, tools or shoes. The oily resin remains active for months if contaminated articles are not thoroughly laundered or cleaned.

Tell me about it—but wait a few weeks, till I’m wearing or using contaminated articles I’ve forgotten to wash or clean.

The rash can develop in odd places that are touched by contaminated clothing or hands. Even a pet dog meandering through poison ivy can cause problems by having the resin stick to its fur. Stroking the animal will yield an unpleasant surprise.

“Here kitty, kitty,” I said one spring morning while I was dressing. A few days later my whole chest was weeping and bubbling and itching. This year I got it drying my dog. Now I’m scratching ivy like he does fleas.

Urushiol does not travel in the air unless the plants are burned. Smoke from burning plants can carry a significant
amount of the irritant and cause problems to those exposed to it.

You don’t know from problems until you’ve breathed it. I know a guy who was so swollen up he almost stopped breathing. If they hadn’t dripped antihistamines into him, he’d have been a goner.

Because different areas of the skin are more sensitive to the irritant, the rash may develop at different times on different parts of the body, making it appear like the rash is spreading, but the rash only develops where urushiol resin makes contact with the skin. Contrary to popular belief, the fluid in the blisters does not spread the rash.

Tell that to the people who move away when they see me coming.

The best form of treatment is prevention. Knowing how to identify poison ivy and other irritating plants and avoiding them, as well as laundering, cleaning or discarding any clothing or objects that have come in contact with the plants is the best way to prevent problems.

Irritants from the plant enter the skin very rapidly, but if the exposed skin is washed with soap within 10 minutes of exposure it can sometimes prevent the rash from developing. Once a case of poison ivy develops, many people can get relief using a number of over-the-counter medications. A mild case can be relieved by applying a calamine type lotion to the skin.

Applying soaks or wet dressings made from diluted aluminum acetate solution (Burrow's solution or Domeboro D) or even saline or sodium bicarbonate solution to the area up to four times a day can relieve itching. Colloidal oatmeal for soothing tub baths are also available and provide relief of itching over large areas of the body.

I’ve soaked whole days in tubs full of Domeboro solution. It works fine until you get the urge to scratch If the rash is more severe and blisters have formed, try puncturing the edges of the large blisters with a sterilized needle. Leave the tops of the blisters intact to protect the skin. The rash will not be spread by the fluid in the blisters.

If the irritation and rash is widely spread over a large portion of the body and there is major swelling involved, see a doctor. A prescription for cortisone-type drugs will provide safe and sometimes dramatic relief from symptoms. Itch, itch.

Over-the-counter lotions or creams that contain anesthetics can relieve itching. Anesthetics such as lidocaine, benzocaine
and dibucaine stop itching or pain by interfering with the nerves that transmit the itch and burn sensation. But they work only on the area they are applied to. And only temporarily. Itch, itch.

External preparations containing antihistamines, such as
diphenhydramine, have been available for many years and can provide
relief from itching. However, antihistamine tablets, capsules or liquids taken by mouth work much better especially when large areas of the body are affected. Itch, itch.

Hydrocortisone is available in ointments, creams and lotions in 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent concentrations. The products provide fastrelief from itching and can be applied to the affected area three or four times a day. Some products also contain ingredients such as menthol, phenol and camphor that provide a cooling affect to irritated or itchy skin. Not fast enough or cooling enough. Itch, itch.

Scratching the rash will sometimes produce an open wound, so infection can be added to ivy. An application of an antibiotic cream or ointment containing bacitracin, neomycin or polymyxin or other antibacterials and a sterile dressing may be needed. Some combination products contain anti-itch ingredients and antiseptic drugs to bring relief as well as protect against infection.

When I’ve got poison ivy, I’m like the young lady from Natchez whose clothing was always in patches. When comments arose, on the state of my clothes, I say “Where I itches, I scratches.”

When using any medication, read and follow all label directions and avoid using any medication that is outdated or contains ingredients that you may be allergic to. People who are sensitive or allergic and very young children should first consult a physician. If symptoms become severe or a large portion of the body is affected, see a physician for treatment.

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Dock of The Bay

Water Quality: Better than Anticipated

Does it sometimes seem like nothing is normal? Raging, dirty waters devour swaths of Midwestern land in the Flood of the Century. Here on the Chesapeake, it’s hot, hot, hot. And freakishly dry on the heels of the Blizzard of ‘93.

Well, with summer half over, just how is the Bay doing as far as water quality?

All things considered, not too bad.

After the Blizzard of ‘93 dumped three trillion gallons of water in the Chesapeake, experts predicted all sorts of damage: loads of new fertilizers choking Bay grasses; “mahogany tides” from depleted oxygen; a poor rockfish spawn.

Five months later, the Bay is showing resilience, and the experts have toned down their gloomy forecasts.

“I was really expecting some dire effects. But I see the Bay as relatively robust,” observed Kent Mountford, of the US EPA's Chesapeake Bay office in Annapolis.

The lack of rainfall helped the Bay bounce back by limiting runoff during a sensitive period. And grasses crucial to sustaining Bay life did not suffer nearly as badly as with Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

Of course, water quality depends on who’s holding the measuring stick. Commercial crabbers are reaping an unexpected bounty, especially those who keep their traps out of oxygen-depleted water, which shifts around the Bay in layers.

On the other hand, this year’s conditions surely have compounded the plight of the oyster. “Because they're immobile, they have to sit there and grin and bear it,” noted Bill Goldsborough, fisheries expert at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

For a slew of reasons, fishermen aren’t smiling. Fewer species have made their way up the Bay, notably bluefish, and bottom-fishing hasn’t heated up yet. By the same token, the fall rockfish season promises to be a bonanza—and everybody is hoping that none of this weird weather floating around these days gets in the way.

Befouled Swimming
No one knows for certain why so many people who swam in Lake Lariat in Chesapeake Ranch Estates last month became ill afterward. Was it the elevated bacteria levels, 60 percent higher than the state allows, that caused 35 to 40 people to suffer unpleasant stomach problems?

Did the bacteria come from aging septic systems in the Calvert County development? Or might it have built up from swimmers themselves, particularly children who confuse the lake with a restroom?

Whatever the case, Calvert County health officials believe that a four-day closing of the fresh-water lake will serve as a lesson to people to take better care of their prized swimming hole. The lake was re-opened after bacteria levels dropped.

“I, for one, have a high degree of suspicion about some of the septic systems that border the lake,” said Dr. David Rogers, of the Calvert County Health Department, who lives in Chesapeake Ranch Estates.

It will be up to the state to conduct a full-scale shoreline survey to determine if septic systems are indeed the culprit. To push for such a survey, the health department needs more proof—proof that could come from more testing.

Meanwhile, residents might consider pumping from the deeper parts of the lake to keep water circulating. Whether or not the bacteria is pinpointed as the cause of the illness, the incident drove home a key point.

What’s the good of escaping the sea nettles if you end up swimming in sewage?

Dogged Legislation

Remember the scene out of the Pink Panther? “Does your dog bite?” Inspector Clouseau asks the innkeeper. No, the innkeeper replies. The dog then tears into Clouseau’s leg.

“I thought you said your dog doesn't bite,” the flustered Clouseau manages.

Replies the innkeeper: “That is not my dog.”

Such a scene could have new meaning in Anne Arundel County if Animal Control officers get their way.

A bill that would make it easier for a dog to be declared vicious and impounded was delayed after county officials had difficulty making their case at the last county council meeting.

“We're talking about some pretty wicked stuff here,” argued Victor Sulin, assistant director of planning and code enforcement. “The classic example is when a child gets mauled.”

Council Member Maureen T. Lamb, D-Annapolis, questioned whether the county needs more authority. And dog-lovers who testified worried that under the proposed changes, a dog could be unfairly declared vicious simply if mischievous neighbors said so.

Annapolis lawyer Ilene C. Caroom brought her dog, Noah, who assists her in living with a hearing impairment. “A carelessly written law could render him vicious simply for biting an intruder,” Caroom said of her border collie.

Lamb suggested that the bill could interfere with property rights of dog owners. She observed that she had some experience with the subject, having been severely bitten herself.

“I can show you my scars,” Lamb said.

There was no word from Inspector Clouseau. But a male member of the council, just out of microphone range, invited her to do just that.

Wasteful Ways

The 8th “Wastemaker Awards” are in, and Philip Morris, the cigarette-maker, has received special mention for its Kool-Aid KoolBursts.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) hands out awards for over-packaged products. The group branded Kool-Aid KoolBursts “a stunning example.”

“Kool-Aid is now sold in a six-pack of unrecyclable plastic bottles...shrink-wrapped in a layer of plastic. One six-pack of Kool-Aid KoolBursts costs ten times more than its predecessor, powdered Kool-Aid sold in a simple paper packet,” said Susan Birmingham of USPIRG.

Also recognized for wasteful packaging: Kudos Pan Squares; Quaker Oat Cups; Whiskas Ultramilk; Sherba Cat Food; Wesson Vegetable Oil in non-recyclable bottle; Dunkaroos; Lunch ‘n Munch; and New Stroke Snap-off Paint Brushes.

Way Downstream...

During the Gulf War, we heard about environmental devastation in Iraq, home of famous biblical sites. Now we learn from the Jerusalem Post about efforts in Israel to restore ancient wetlands. Forty years ago, not long after the country was born, Israel drained swamps and diverted the water for farming.

Israeli officials realize the price they paid. “It’s clear now that what they did caused some serious environmental problems,” observed an official of the Upper Galilee council. They plan to refill farmlands with water to recreate wetlands.

But the $18 million plan sounds suspicious. Afterward, planners intend to convert the project into a safari park, boating canals and “tourist bungalows”...

At the Cincinnati Zoo, officials are either worried about extinction or they’re planning their own Jurassic Park. They have begun freezing embryos, sperm and eggs from endangered animals, which can be cryonically preserved for thousands of years...

On Vancouver Island in Western Canada, the rock group Midnight Oil is helping to turn the tide in protests against heavy logging. Ten times as many protesters as usual showed up recently when the Australian band came to play, completely shutting down the tree-cutting operation...

This week’s Creature Feature comes to us all the way from Siberia, where operators of a children’s camp were confounded by high levels of radiation. Another problem from the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, you ask?

It turns out that the radiation was coming from a heavy population of bats. According to Tass—which has turned from communist organ to muckraker—the bats had been feeding at a nearby lake where companies have been dumping scads of toxic wastes.

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With the Environment, No More Dawdling

In Anne Arundel County and Calvert counties, some interests seem intent on fighting the last wars.

Anne Arundel developers want to chip away at the Critical Areas Law rewrite. In case you missed it, the county is working to close loopholes in the law to protect Bay shoreline. In its last meeting, the county commission approved an amendment to reduce the required buffer area protecting wetlands to 25 feet from 50 feet.

Let’s hope commissioners were tossing developers one final bone. But more amendments are possible, threatening what has been a laudable effort to protect the Chesapeake waterfront.

In Calvert County, some business leaders persist in portraying the Clean Air Act of 1990 as a Washington conspiracy designed to choke small business. The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee and panels across the country are hammering out
regulations to enforce the landmark legislation. Southern Maryland has a fair voice in making the law work well.

In both matters, we say get on with it.

As a small business, we know about the pain from a limp-along economy. We are troubled that the Clinton Administration frittered away tons of good will that could have provided clout to repair the economy. On the other hand, both Clinton and the economy show signs of improvement.

Too often, progress falls victim to political infighting and public posturing. In the last campaign, “gridlock” became the refrain to describe an inability to move forward. Gridlock is a disease to be avoided at every level of government.

Environmental protection needs a special brand of unity—an all-hands-on-deck mentality and an eyes-forward approach. When it comes to the Critical Areas Law, it’s hard to argue that protecting irretrievable shoreline is not critically important.

With a few notable exceptions, the permit pipeline for current shoreline projects in Anne Arundel County is unclogged after a bureaucratic
dispute. Developers with an eye on waterfront properties ought to take their chips to another table now and stop fighting the Critical Areas rewrite.

Same goes for Calvert County and the Clean Air Act. Like it or not, Calvert is on the verge of exploding in population. Sprawl is here and malling creeping in. It is becoming increasingly difficult for community leaders to portray themselves as country cousins unaffected by urban problems.

A recent press release from Calvert business leaders inveighed against the Clean Air Act, calling it harsh and expensive. “The consumer, which is you and me, is ultimately the loser,” the statement read.

We like to see debate stimulated, albeit with scare tactics. But we think that the time is here to stop resisting and start teaching: teaching people about safe lawn care products and friendly weed-killers; about energy efficient lighting; about the new generation of air-conditioners that we’ll have to soon adopt.

There’s a world of new, “green” products out there that promise plenty of profits for small business. Smart businesspeople came to tell us about their greening at last week’s Southern Maryland Clean Air Public Hearing.

Environmental rules can sting, whether along the shore or in the drive for clean air. Nonetheless, a longer view is in order.

Humans have been around for 130,000 years or so. But you’ll find more than a few scientists who say we’ll be lucky to survive another 100 years because of the mess we’ve made of this planet.

Shouldn’t we try to prove them wrong?

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Vital Signs: How's Our Planet Doing This Year?
by Lester R. Brown

(Smart quote: The world has moved into a new era…raising difficult questions about how resources are distributed between those here now and those just arriving.)

When the history of the late 20th century is written, the 90s may well be seen as a decade of massive change. Long-established global trends that have been rising for decades—such as the seafood catch per person, growth in nuclear arsenal, production of certain air pollutants, coal use and cigarette smoking—now are falling.

Other trends that were going nowhere, or at best rising slowly, are suddenly soaring: the generation of electricity from wind; the use of compact fluorescent bulbs; and reliance on U.N. forces to keep peace.

Many rapid changes in the 90s stem from spreading environmental concerns. Production of ozone-depleting air pollution has been halved since 1988 because governments decided to save the stratospheric ozone layer that protects life on earth from damaging ultraviolet radiation.

Similarly, to stabilize climate and lower air pollution, governments have begun to discourage the use of coal and other fossil fuels.

Nature’s constraints also are directly affecting the global economy. Among these are the capacity of crops to use fertilizer, of the oceans to yield seafood and of fresh water to be produced.

A survey of 42 global indicators for this year’s Vital Signs , published by Worldwatch Institute, shows four new challenges:

  • Food production—from grain to seafood and livestock—is not expanding as fast as population;
  • The global economy is not expanding as easily as it once did;
  • A new world energy economy seems to be dawning
  • Continuing population growth could undermine living standards

Food production
Our generation is the first to witness the doubling of world population during a lifetime. Indeed, everyone born before 1950 has seen world population double. One of the most immediate consequences is decline in the per capital grain harvest and fish catch.

Neither the world’s farmers nor its fishing fleets are keeping pace with the population. Grain output per person has fallen eight percent since 1984. The oceans may not be able to sustain a catch of more than 100 million tons, the level reached in 1989. With the haul actually declining since then, the catch per person has fallen seven percent.

In effect, the world has moved into a new era, raising difficult questions about how resources are distributed between those here now and those who are just arriving.

One of the keys to expanding both meat and fish production is the supply of soybean meal. An increase in fish supplies now depends on fish farming. Expanding meat to eat means either putting more cattle and sheep into feedlots or shifting from beef and mutton to pork or poultry—all of which depend on grain and soybean meal.

One of the most visible shifts in the world economy following the oil price hikes in the 70s was the slower growth in automobile production and the accelerated growth in bicycling. Many people in Western countries are surprised to learn that bicycles used for transportation now greatly outnumber automobiles.

In China, with a population far greater than that of the industrial West, bicycles outnumber automobiles by 250 to 1.

Worldwide in 1992, 35 million cars rolled off assembly lines—not many more than the 30 million in 1973. Meanwhile, bicycle production has climbed to 100 million. As mayors and city planners become disenchanted with the automobile, more people will rely on public transportation and bicycles.

One of the most promising recent trends is the willingness of governments to use tax policy not only to raise revenues but also to reverse destructive trends—such as cigarette smoking or burning fossil fuels.

Policies for an age when our future so clearly depends on protecting our natural life-support systems sensibly and appealingly would lower taxes on constructive activities—such as income from work or savings—and raise them on destructive activities—such as using virgin raw materials or generating hazardous waste.

Using tax policies to curb environmental destruction can help reverse many of the damaging trends, improving our planet’s vital signs.

(Lester Brown is president of Worldwatch Institute; this commentary is excerpted from his Vital Signs 1993: The Trends that Are Shaping Our Future.)

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Bay Reflections

by Audrey Y. Scharmen

These are the times that try the very soul of a sailor. These are the times when a choice part of the Chesapeake summer is swept into the doldrums and clasped in the relentless grip of something called a Bermuda high, an area of stagnant air that may strangle the entire Atlantic Coast for weeks.

I pay no mind to inclement weather. What’s the use, say I. What will be will be and there’s nothing I can do about it. I just use as my guideline the seaman’s ditty that goes: Dark sky at night—sailor’s delight, (or is it red sky at dawn? Oh well—you know the one I mean). Anyway I have this kind of kinship with Nature (she has her own reasons for her actions and we should support her) and I often side with her (she being a sister and all) except, of course, when she REALLY gets out of hand. Then I become irritable. And she did go a little too far with this recent Bermuda-high thing.

You see, I had plans. And all of a sudden this stifling weather interfered. But the problem (according to my consultant on weather) is that it takes a real jolt to get rid of that kind of high. The ingredients are: (says my consultant) a nuclei, a lifting action, and moisture. The makings of a major storm. I have to wonder if it is worth a hurricane just to clear the air. Isn’t there an easier way? Can’t we come up with something else, I asked my consultant?

His rather pained reply was unintelligible—made so by mine. I reminded him that there was our old cruiser, with her carburetor newly rebuilt and her steering cable replaced at much expense and labor, languishing at the dock—impatiently tugging at her lines and shrugging off swallows—all dressed up and no where to go, so to speak. (She had planned to be bound for some distant Chesapeake tributary by now.) I asked the consultant just what he intended to do about her.

He replied that we would just have to forget the cruise until Nature decided how to rouse that supine jet stream from its stupor without wreaking too much havoc. And, he added, she (a sister and all) would probably take her own sweet time doing it. (This is one sarcastic consultant.)

Golly, I wouldn’t like to be responsible for such decisions. Wouldn’t you hate to be in Mother Nature’s shoes?

So it was that I spent a precious part of summer awaiting the the arrival of the nuclei, the lifting action and the blessed moisture. I roamed the beach, hoping for some sign of a horizon long lost in a milky-green Bay where rafts of jellies drifted and workboats listlessly trolled. In my wilting yard, the banshee wails of cicadas declared the end of the world while the dock swallows went right on teaching their young to fly; and goldfinches frolicked merrily in the hardy zinnias—gathering seeds and nesting material—their faith unshaken by a simple drought.

In due time Mother Nature made a sensible decision about the Bermuda high. She scoured the sky and restored the horizon and stirred up a breeze to ruffle the water and left a promise of gentle rain. She accomplished in short all the things she does so well (on a good day). All those things we Chesapeake people covet but simply take for granted—when they are there.
Gasping days of drooping sails and drying things. It happens every summer...

Audrey Y. Scharmen cruises the Bay from on an old Cris-Craft.

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Who's Here

It’s high summer, when even drought can’t forestall abundance. Gardens are spilling over into markets along every road, as you know for yourself and will read at length in this issue’s second story. With Silverado here, corn is so sweet it doesn’t need butter. Peaches taste, as Lee Summerall writes, the way you remember them. Herbs, spilling into flower, want big harvesting. Soon we’ll have too many tomatoes, and—if squash rot doesn’t set in—too much zucchini. You’ll read more next week about that.

The marshes are florid with mallows and the air undulant with butterflies: bigger and more beautiful than we’ve seen in many a summer. We’re blessed with garden writers and we’ve found a bug writer, but we wouldn’t mind if a butterfly writer fluttered our way.

In the Water
Those boats in the Choptank River are there for a reason, says Capt. George Prenant, who operates the Stormy Petrel fishing charter boat out of Deale.

“Last week, the only fishing we had of any significance was in the Choptank River for jumbo spot,” Prenant said.

According to Prenant, croakers are around, along with spike trout (12-15 inches). Boats also were finding a few trout in the Stone Rock sector of Sharps Island Flats off of Tilghman Island. And trollers were finding an occasional bluefish.

“Spanish mackerel are overdue as are the flounder,” Prenant concluded.

(Want to know more or book a charter? Call Capt. Prenant at 301/261-9075.)

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You Can’t Get Better Unless You Grow It Yourself
by Lee Summerall

Summer fruits and vegetables taste as good as your memories tell you they should. Tomatoes burst with sweetly acidic flavor, corn is sweet, cantaloupes perfume an entire room. As surely as it brings those delights, summer brings out farmers and vendors to sell you their bounty.

Even as southern Maryland’s farm land decreases, the number of farmers who grow—and sell—to you is up. They’re tobacco farmers and row-crop farmers, like Sonny Swann of Lower Marlboro, who’ve turned to table crops because “a bushel of sweet corn brings better money than a bushel of field corn.” They’re retirees like Pat and Bob Bramhall of Lothian, living a dream that nourished their working years. They’re former farm-family folk or claustrophobic urbanites wanting to return to the land.

Like Catherine Classen. Classen gave Annapolis its first T-Shirt store, running Alley Cat T-Shirts for 15 years, first moving herself and then her living to Southern Maryland. Now she grows organic fruits and vegetables in Shady Side at her four acre Two Hollies Farm, where she’ll also sell you produce so fresh it’s often picked as you wait.

With farms so small—usually less than ten acres under cultivation—table farmers are hard pressed to vie with the big commercial growers and shippers who sell wholesale at Jessup. Many choose to stay small; others find local farmers’ markets give them a way to compete. Anne Arundel and Calvert and many other counties organize growers’ markets, where farmers meet eaters.

A growing subgroup is the organic gardener. Also growing are their markets, which include fancy restaurants (Fergie’s in Edgewater and Carrol’s Creek in Eastport often buy from Two Hollies), caterers or specialty stores; families who take season-long subscription; and customers who come directly to the own fields. Their market is the upper-end, educated crowd, who are willing to pay a premium for food untainted by the chemicals traditional growers routinely use. To guarantee organic integrity, Maryland runs one of the nation’s few Organic Farm Certifying Program, according to Tony Evans of the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Organic or traditional, Maryland’s truck and market farmers are up early—in the fields harvesting, at Jessup’s pre-dawn commercial market, or on their way to the roadside where they wait for you. They’re part of the landscape of summer, in their trucks, at their tables, under their umbrellas, with their hand-lettered signs and come-hither vegetable effigies.

The Truck
The truck sits beside the highway, a blue plastic awning rigged to fend off the worst of the sun. On the open bed of the pickup, glowing green in the light, lie a thousand ears of freshly picked corn, their dark tassels wilting in the heat. Twenty yards north of the truck, a plywood sign is propped in the grass, its message hand-painted in day-glo blue spray paint: Silver Queen Fresh Pick

The young man who tends the truck picked the corn earlier in the day, while the morning cool still offered a promise of comfort. That promise has been broken. He sips luke-warm water out of a plastic jug; the ice has long since melted.

“Been up since dawn,” he says matter of factly as he pulls back, with a practiced motion, a handful of pale green leaves. “Fresh today. You can’t get a better taste ‘less you pick it yourself.”

He loads a brown paper sack with a dozen ears, folds my bills into a thick wad pulled from his jeans. With a smile on my face, I head to my car. Tonight we feast.

The Roadside Table
In the shade of a tree by another road stand two long rickety tables. Next to the tables is a farm wagon: old, big wheeled, with low sides. Once it was green. The dusty reddish tractor that pulled the flat-bedded wagon from the near-by farm to this market is even older, a carefully-tended colleague in the farming business.

This market has a history, long enough to keep a steady stream of cars and trucks pulling up.

“We've been here five years,” says a man rearranging a pile of bowling-ball melons. “We grow a lot of what we sell. The melons, though, come from the Eastern Shore. Fellas over there have irrigation. I picked these up this morning.”

The produce piled high in wooden baskets looks homegrown: you might find a splotch on a squash or a worm in the corn. Cukes that don’t all look alike can be eaten with the skins on; they’re not oiled or polished. Tomatoes are red and heavy, with the rich, glowing look you knows means a flavor explosion when you bite.

Melons are heavy and ridged, yellow-webbed volleyballs with such a perfume. One is cut open to show what you're getting: a deep, velvety golden orange with a hint of salmon.

They load my booty into plastic sacks emblazoned with the name of a large chain.

"Do you eat tomatoes in the winter?"

“No,” the woman laughs as she hands me my change. “Why bother?”

The Year-Round Market
The long, one-story building sits on a pull-off, easily seen and reached from the main road. No home-made hand-lettered signs announce this location; these are established marketeers. Their sign sports plastic moveable letters. Today they’re advertising yellow corn, Vidalia onions, local berries, melons.

On long racks running the length of the building front, round green watermelons and pale cantaloupes are ranged. On the top row, a half dozen hanging baskets offer a spot of fading color. Near the door, a watermelon has been cut open: an almost glowing red peppered with black, then pearly white demarcating it from a band of deepest green.

Through the swinging door now, and into the stuffy heat under the roof. Whitewashed bins, three by three, hold mounds of corn, potatoes, onions. Paper bags lie in stack atop the onions.

Inside the store, blessedly cool with a rattling air conditioner, the owners hold court. They’ve been here a long time, know everybody, have hundreds of regulars. Just now they’re talking about someone who was buried last week. They sigh; the talk shifts to someone else with the same prospects.

A cooler on the back wall sports lettuce, the hard cannonball kind with no nutritional value and even less taste. But it ships well, and keeps a long time if kept cold. There’s celery there as well, and deep green broccoli.

And the tomatoes! Bins, stacks, mountains. Deep red piles, grown mostly in Anne Arundel County, harvested daily. These people are year round, so they buy most of their produce at Jessup to keep up with the demand. The price on the tomatoes is slightly higher than the chain stores but worth it. Beside the huge red globes, gleaming like striped green torpedoes, are cucumbers. They’re not the huge flashy supermarket kind; some are hunchbacks. But they haven’t been waxed or oiled. Some of them haven’t even been washed: small clumps of dirt stick to the pale undersides. But they'll have an extra crunch, a solidity that cukes mass produced in— where? Mexico? California? Israel?—simply can’t match. In a small wooden crate pickling cukes—pale, warty and hard to come by unless you grow your own—are piled.

This is a daily, almost year-round operation. It’ll be here reliably when the trucks have gone home with the earliest—if not always the freshest—delights of every season, from strawberries to Christmas trees.

The County Market
What makes a farm market a success? What everybody likes to eat best: corn, cantaloupes, melons, peaches and tomatoes. That’s why Calvert County’s two-year-old Farm Market opens in July, when high summer has filled the fields.

Here a dozen or more Calvert County farmers sell their home-grown produce in the shade of a new roof. Last year, farmers sweltered on a treeless plot near Wal-Mart in Prince Frederick. Their new home, about three miles south of their old location and still on Rt. 4, is at Trapper’s

Trading Company.
Richard Fisher, owner of Trapper’s, donated the building, which sits less than a hundred yards from his log cabin restaurant. That’s a generosity the Anne Arundel farmers must envy. They’re paying back the county for the cost of their market shelter on Riva Road.

Each market has a master who checks the arrivals and collects the daily fees to assure produce is farm fresh. Local growers get first chance at county market spots, under state policy. Next come out-of-county farmers. Out-of-state farmers are recruited only to fill in gaps. The other farmers are eagle vigilant, too. They have no shyness about collaring a fellow vendor and giving the third degree in order to assure that you get what you’ve paid for: home-grown produce.

That’s all for now: my family’s hungry for corn. Down the road there’s a truck selling locally grown Silverado and a farm a block nearer offering Eastern Shore Silver Queen—ours won’t be ripe for a week or so. I’ll buy local.

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Wine Fest

Red, white, and blush, sweet or dry—for many of us wine drinkers with aspirations to a pallet these words have become familiar vocabulary. But what about tannins, nose, bouquet, a touch of toast, or a kiss of oak?

The ‘93 Mid Atlantic Wine Festival in Annapolis aimed at introducing us to the broader world of wine appreciation, taking us from initial curiosity to the first levels of familiarity.

In a festive, friendly atmosphere, folks enjoyed regional cuisines, micro-brewed beers, music, and, of course, many excellent wines from the mid-Atlantic region. As beach-balls bounced and blues bands grooved, the good stuff pouring all the while, revelers found that fine wines and down-home Maryland fun go hand-in-hand.

“I wish I were on the other side of the tables so I could enjoy all these wines today,” said the mirthful Luca Paschina, General Manager and Winemaker at the award-winning Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia.

Wine festivals are right up Paschina’s alley because he likes talking with people about wines. “People are always asking me questions and getting to know me. It’s like buying any work of art directly from the artist,” he said.

How does wine drinking differ in Paschina’s native Italy from America? “There, wine was an everyday part of the diet,” he observed. “Here, it’s something for special occasions.”

Another way we’re different from Europe is our newness to the art of winemaking. Connoisseur tend to assume that Europe or the West Coast are the only options. In terms of consumer confidence, the mid-Atlantic “is about where California was 15 years ago,” said Kay Johnson of Ingleside Plantation Vineyards.

Mid-Atlantic vintners are looking for respect, according to Ingleside owner Doug Flemer. “The wineries here compete with other boutique wines from California. We need people to drink our cabernet and say ‘yes, it’s worth the $10.’”

But can our region’s wines stack up to world class vintages? “Absolutely,” said Russell Stone, buyer-connoisseur at Edgewater Liquors. “For example, I see a true regional character in the softness and tenderness developing in Virginia chardonnays.”

“It’s interesting to see regional cuisines and wines grow up together,” he added, noting that “the Seyval Blanc is primarily a Maryland grape and it goes very well with crab dishes.”

“We think that people are broadening their tastes for quality wines today,” said fest helper Kim Dean. “They’re also realizing that there can be more to drinking than just guzzling beer.”

Dean was right about that, as would-be-connoisseurs mingled and asked questions at three huge tents filled with mountains of cased wine for tasting and sales.

Toward evening, tired tasters bought bottles of their day’s favorite and drank in front of the bandstand. Some danced, while others relaxed on blankets and talked, relieved that the usual festival routine of drunken rudeness was not the order of the day.

My opinion? I was delighted by the first few reds I tasted, with their spice and oak overtones. But by the tenth taste or so, I found myself in the position of the Eskimo child who does not yet know the words for all 63 kinds of snow.

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Sky Facts


Brilliant, diamond-like Venus is outshone only by the sun and the moon. Since its orbit is between earth and sun, we always see Venus just after sunset, when it’s the evening star , or just before sunrise, when it’s the morning star. The planet of love is symbolized by a woman and associated with beauty, sensuality, fine arts, the metal silver and, of course, diamonds.

Medieval legend has it that Venus held court in a cavern at Venusberg, somewhere in Germany, enticing travelers who became loath to leave. “Venus, if you will, please send a little girl for me to thrill...” sang Frankie Avalon in the sixties.

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Bay History

Finding History Through Garbage
Three hundred years afterward, we know what the Stephens family ate and how they lived from what they threw away
by James G. Gibb

They stepped off of the boat onto the eastern shore of the Patuxent River, just a few miles upriver from the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of a small creek. The 100-acre tract that lay before them was covered in forest. They may have been the first European colonists to settle this side of the Patuxent.

It was 1651, late summer or perhaps early autumn, when William and Magdalen Stephens, along with their two sons, John and William Jr., and four servants arrived in Calvert County from England. None of them left behind an account of their adventure in the new world. Were they happy with their new life? Were their dreams fulfilled?

While we can only guess at how they felt about this land, it is possible to piece together many details of their lives.

How? Over 300 years later, archaelogists dug up their garbage. What they threw away and where it was found tells their story. “William Stephens Land” was discovered when Patuxent Point Condominiums was about to be built.Southern Maryland Regional Archaelogist Julie King and I were the principal investigators.

Settling In
William Stephens acquired 100 acres of prime agricultural land, perfect for raising large quantities of tobacco, the principal cash crop of the region. The tract lay on the south side of Stephens (now Hungerford) Creek. Just below the creek and along the shore of the Patuxent River, the family built their plantation. The creek, once deep enough to admit small sloops, became an avenue by which tons of tobacco could be transported to larger ships lying at anchor in deeper waters. Ultimately, that tobacco would be shipped to England and, from there, to all of Europe.

In the middle of the 17th century, farms such as those built by the Stephens family were called plantations. Today, the word evokes images of stately manor houses of the deep South presided over by the likes of Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara, with enslaved Africans doing all of the work. Not so for William and Magdalen Stephens, nor for the vast majority of their fellow colonists. They worked as their servants and slaves worked, and—with few exceptions—they lived as their servants and slaves lived.

Their home was humble by today’s standards. A few timbers were set into the ground for a frame. Planks were nailed on and a simple pitched roof was raised. The floors might have been wooden, but in all likelihood were of hard-packed earth. Tools and foods not in daily use were stored in the lofts or in separate outbuildings that differed little from the houses in size or construction.

The Stephens family built three houses side by side, adding chimneys built with poles, woven branches, and mud plastering. Around those buildings were several open pits from which the mud plaster was taken. But the pits did not remain open. Over a period of several years, they were filled with oyster shells, the bones of cows, deer, fish, and pigs, and large numbers of broken glass bottles and clay pots.

Food from the Forests and the Bay
Oysters were plentiful in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the 17th century. Thousands of oyster shells, some measuring 8 inches or more in length, were found at the Stephens plantation.

Marie-Lorraine Pipes, a mid-Atlantic States archaeologist specializing in the identification of animal species from fragments of bones, believes that the Stephens family ate heavily of oysters and fish during the winter. Cows were kept the year round. While the dairy herd appears to have been carefully managed, the family—like most of their neighbors—let their pigs run free in the forest.

Care had to be taken to make sure that the pigs bore the correct markings on their ears. Killing someone else’s pigs, even in the forest, could mean arrest and trial for pig-napping.

Deer, too, roamed the forest and the edges of the tobacco and corn fields. Venison was so common a dish that colonists soon tired of it. Hunters shouldered flintlock muskets and tracked deer on their own lands, or wandered inland where great forests and grasslands remained undeveloped and often unclaimed. In England, deer had been confined to game parks where only the wealthy hunted.

What did people eat with their meat or when there was no meat to be had? Corn. Lots of it. Cornboiled in clay pots, fried in clay frying pans and skillets, and eaten from clay dishes imported from England, the Netherlandsand Germany.

East Coast archaeologist Meta Janowitz, a specialist in 17th century European pottery, has identified a wide range of clay and glass vessels from the refuse that the Stephens family left behind. There were jugs from the Rhine Valley of Germany from which the family drank beer and cider. More than 20 quart-sized bottles, fragments of which were found in the trash-filled pits, may have contained gin or other spirits imported from England and the Netherlands.

A variety of clay skillets and other cooking pots, known to have been manufactured by Dutch artisans, were used by the Stephens family to cook cereals and perhaps sauces. The food was served up in finely painted bowls from Holland, England and France.

There were times when there was no meat to be had, and precious little of anything else to eat, even corn. Henry Miller, chief archaeologist at Historic St. Mary’s City in St. Mary’s County, tells us that spring was the hungriest time of the year. Crops had just been planted, and the food that had been preserved for the winter was nearly gone.

Smoking up a Storm
Always, tobacco was in abundance. Virtually everyone smoked, from the oldest men and women to children. Archaelogists working along the Chesapeake Bay commonly find pipes made in Northern Europe of fine, white clay and red clay pipes believed to have been made by Native Americans and enslaved Africans..

The skeletons of these people, occasionally exhumed by archaeologists, reveal considerable wear on their teeth from the tobacco pipes. Douglas Ubelaker and his colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution have identified large circular holes where the clay pipe stems were habitually clenched between teeth. Abigail Turowski, an anthropologist studying at the University of Maryland, suggests that tobacco was used to stave off hunger and fatigue.

The remains of the Stephens family plantation survived real estate development and pot hunting long enough for archaeologists to recover and study them. Indeed, excavations at the Stephens Land plantation were funded by a local developer, CRJ Associates of Camp Springs, to preserve as much information as possible before the site was developed for residential housing.

We learn more as we continue to study these remnants of history, discovering details of daily living along the shores of the Chesapeake and its tributaries.

We may or may not be to imagine how the colonists felt about their choices to emigrate to the New World, to leave behind family and friends whom they probably would never see again. But as long as colonial sites escape destruction from bulldozers and relic hunters, we will continue to wonder and to seek answers.

James G. Gibb, of North Beach, an archaelogist with wide digging experience, is finishing his dissertation on 17th century colonial Maryland.

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Bay Touring

Marinas of the Western Shore
by Fred B. Scott and Staff Reports

Pullout: When travelling in your own boat, each port becomes your home, calling you back.

July, 1993. Out in the great Chesapeake Bay—surrounded by fog. Lost in the fog. Lost as a would-be sea dog can be. Lost as two would-be sea dogs; my wife, Fatimah, was with me.

I have cruised the Bay plenty, but my navigational skills are pretty much limited to visual landmarks. When nasty fog hides all my favorite landmarks, I’m sort of up the creek. Call me a fair weather sailor if that pleases you smug, chart-reading sailors. Like Popeye, I am what I am.

Fatimah and I intended on cruising to Baltimore, taking a slip at Henderson’s Wharf, and enjoying the Inner Harbor. That never happened.

What did happen is that we ended up in Annapolis. Hot, tired, frustrated, and in the wrong port in the wrong river, we stumbled into a friendly marina, the Maryland Capitol Yacht Club. What a pleasant place it turned out to be. A helpful dockmaster improved our stay.

Not only were transient slips available; so was a swimming pool, showers, and a TV lounge for sailors who’ve exhausted their resources or themselves. Annapolis City Dock and a ton of street action was only a water taxi ride away. It seemed we had docked in heaven.

We’ve found many heavenly little havens along the Bay’s 8,000 miles of shoreline. Though our stop may be only a night, we explore each one as if it were to be a new home port, stretching out, settling in, imagining… That’s one of the great benefits of traveling in your own boat: each port becomes your home, calling you back.

Here begins a sampling of our favorite stops along the Western Shore. This issue we’ll travel from Annapolis to Solomons, stopping at urban and suburban marinas. Stay tuned to New Bay Times for news on more marinas. We’ll visit villages and quaint working harbors, travel up rivers, seek safe harbor on the wide open Bay, and visit our favorite neighbors on the Eastern Shore.

You can’t go wrong in Annapolis, even when it’s the wrong port in the wrong river. Weems Creek, College Creek, Spa Creek, Back Creek and Lake Ogleton grip the peninsula like the fingers of the Severn River’s watery hand. On Spa and Back Creeks, marinas beckon you, each offering comfortable to luxurious amenities. Spa Creek is served by water taxi, and the whole area by land taxi. In Annapolis City Dock, you can get anything you want, from arugala to Zanzibar jewels. Best of all, once Annapolis has been your home port, even for a night, you can call yourself Annapolitan.

NBT choice: Maryland Capitol Yacht Club, where you can stay for a night for $1/foot or all year for considerably more: $2500 to $4100. Dockmaster Jeff Miller: 410/269-5219.

You’re in the Bay’s suburbs on the South River, the next waterway down. Two areas here offer distinct pleasures. Do you like to keep in touch on your holidays or get away from it all?

If it’s a scene you want, cruise into Edgewater. Here, tucked under Rt. 2, you’ve arrived in the land of affluence and opportunity. You’ll think you’ve popped into the pages of House Beautiful; naturally the vistas match. You can satisfy all your boating needs and whims right here: you can buy gas or even a boat or have your own vessel hauled and stored. Rent a jetski or waterskis if it’s speed you crave. Walk to your choice of restaurants—upscale and trendy or Bay friendly— or taxi to grocery stores, malls or movies.

NBT choices:
Liberty Yacht Club and Marina, where overnight dockage at $1/foot includes a pool, laundry privileges, and TV lounge with fireplace. Year-round fees begin at $1250. Come here to gas or dock really big boats. 410/971-1300.

Smaller Oak Grove Marina is linked to both Fergie’s Restaurant and Suntime Boat Rentals. Stop here overnight for 75 cents/foot or stay all year for fees ranging from $800 to $2500. Dockmaster Greg Rodgers: 410/266-6696.

At Turkey Point, you’ll still be in the South River but you’ll think you’re in another world. Here’s a suburb off the beaten track, where you enjoy the advantages of a marina environment—brokers, lifts, land service, complete mechanical support, grocery— in an otherwise undeveloped little paradise. The river’s so wide and protected here that they call it Ramsey Lake. And, if you want to go farther, you can rent a limo.

NBT choices:
South River Marina, small, brand-new and friendly, offers complete engine and outboard service for your boat with a good shower room for you. Daily $1/foot; yearly from $10 to $14/foot: 410/798-1658.

100-slip Turkey Point Marina adds personal service to pleasant surroundings and gas to its complete mechanic and lift service. The bonus here is an in-marina limo service to take you and your party near or far in fancy style. Capt. Todd Harper will also lay on small touring charters. Spend the night for $1/foot; the year for $1400 plus 10% AACo. tax. 410/798-1658.

There’s no paradise for some folks Except Solomons, which is as cute as a theme park—and real. Down here where the wide Patuxent River joins the sweeping Bay, you get the jumping-off feeling, as if anywhere, any dream were possible. Added to Solomons’ wind-swept island sensibility is its aura of remaining a working fishing village with tourist amenities—restaurants, a tiki bar, kayaking, galleries, book stores, ice cream, museums, fun shops… Yes, I’ve heard less appealing descriptions of heaven. Another advantage is Solomons’ quaint closeness: wherever you berth, you can walk or watertaxi to everything else.

Every marina in town is worth a visit. Typically good shower rooms are upgraded with pools and hot tubs and ships’ stores sell irresistible luxuries plus necessities.

NBT Choices:
Spring Cove Marina, where friendly people double your enjoyment, offers a playground for kids and bike rental for the family. Full service, all the way up to a 30-ton lift. By the day, $1.45/foot at high season; lower later. By the year, $1500-$4500. General Manager: Trevor Richards. 410/326-2161.

Beacon Marina, where you can send your overflow guests to the quaint Comfort Inn right on marina grounds. $1/foot nightly plus power; about $55/foot by the year, 410/326-3807.

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